March 11, 2021
HuffPost reported that Peretti—who is chief executive, now that BuzzFeed has sealed the deal to buy the site co-founded by Arianna Huffington is 2005— told staffers that the layoffs decision was made to “fast-track the path to profitability” for the money-losing website. The site’s losses totaled around $20 million in 2020, he said.
BuzzFeed on Tuesday said it made a series of cuts in HuffPost that will result in 47 U.S. jobs lost, including Executive Editor Hillary Frey and Executive Editor International Louise Roug.
The Canadian version of the website also will be shuttered.
The HuffPost union, organized as part of the Writers Guild of America-East, blasted the layoffs on Tuesday, March 9.
“Today, we learned that 33 of our colleagues—nearly 30% of our unit—will be laid off. We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” said the union. “This is also happening less than a month after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. We never got a fair shot to prove our worth.”
Former HuffPost owner Verizon recognized the union in 2016 and agreed to a new three-year contract in 2019, which remains in effect and will result in severance for the laid-off staffers, the union said.
BuzzFeed agreed in November to buy the site founded by Aianna Huffington, Peretti, Andrew Breitbart, and venture capitalist Kenneth Lerer.
Terms of the all-stock transaction between Verizon and BuzzFeed were not revealed, but Verizon maintained a minority stake in the site and has also pledged an investment into BuzzFeed as part of the deal.
Peretti will be CEO of the combined operations—but says he will run them as “separate distinct news organizations.”
“We want to ensure the homepage remains a top destination on the internet,” Peretti reportedly told staffers. “We also want to maintain high traffic, preserve your most powerful journalism, lean more deeply into politics and breaking news, and build a stronger business for affiliate revenue and shopping content.”
BuzzFeed made deep staff cuts at the start of the pandemic, but he said it had returned to profitability.
According to the Post, Mark Schoofs, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, is seeking a new-editor-in chief at HuffPost, who will report to him. The post has been vacant for a year since Lydia Polgreen jumped to Spotify’s podcasting unit Gimlet Media in March 2020. Frey had been overseeing it since then.
Research contact: @nypost