BuzzFeed has purchased HuffPost – formerly The Huffington Post – a deal that will make seller Verizon Media a shareholder in BuzzFeed. While it is unclear how much the sale was for, the metrics of HuffPost show that the former liberal blog site hasn’t been close to as successful as it once was, despite a slight peak due to election coverage.
The sale makes quite a bit of sense, considering current BuzzFeed CEO, Jonah Peretti, helped co-found The Huffington Post. Actually, BuzzFeed was actually started by Peretti while he was working for the HuffPost. BuzzFeed News Editor-In-Chief Mark Schoofs posted a note to staff about what the purchase of HuffPost means for the newly acquired company and BuzzFeed News. Schoofs says that on a day-to-day basis, almost nothing will change for either company. Both BuzzFeed News and HuffPost will remain separate news organizations. Both companies have their own identities that they have crafted over the years and plan to maintain those for their audiences in the future.
Schoofs continues to say that HuffPost will continue to operate its own website, social channels, and app, and will eventually have its own editor-in-chief once more, although the search is still ongoing for who will fill that position. This future EIC will report to Schoofs for oversight, while day-to-day management will still be up to HuffPost’s EIC. Schoofs puts the transition succinctly when he says “We are separate and distinct subsidiaries of the same company.” He uses BuzzFeed’s other properties as an example, saying that like Tasty and BuzzFeed News, HuffPost will be another property under BuzzFeed’s larger umbrella.
The Huffington Post launched in 2005, founded by Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti. In 2011, AOL purchased Huffington Post for $315 million, making Huffington the president and editor-in-chief of the site, as well as several other AOL properties. Back in 2012, HuffPost became the first digital media enterprise in the United States to win a Pulitzer Prize. In 2015, Verizon purchased AOL for $4.4 billion, making The Huffington Post part of Verizon Media. In late 2016, Huffington would leave the position of editor-in-chief to Lydia Polgreen, who in 2017, changed the name of the site to HuffPost as part of a company rebrand.
In 2019, Verizon Media fired 7% of its staff, which led to the firing of 20 employees from the HuffPost’s staff, as Verizon has been trying to get out of the digital media business. Rumors of HuffPost’s sale began in October of 2019, yet the sale to BuzzFeed does come as somewhat of a surprise.
While Schoofs states that HuffPost and BuzzFeed News will remain separate entities, it will be interesting to see how this works in practice and if the two will stay completely split. BuzzFeed has also declined to comment on the possibility of job losses due to the purchase, although earlier this year, BuzzFeed did close their newsrooms in the UK and Australia, as well as cut the pay of their staff. With this just another example of media consolidation, it will be curious to see how online news sites change because of this purchase.