“Difficult Changes” is the title of the memo BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti sent to staff, confirming that cuts to 15 percent of employees will take place.
The memo was sent to staff on Wednesday after rumors of layoffs began circulating the day before. The cuts, which are expected to be company-wide, are predicted to happen next week.
In the memo, Peretti claimed that “Unfortunately, revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.”
Buzzfeed was founded in 2006 by Peretti and John S. Johnson III and is currently the world’s leading digital media company. With about 1,450 staffers spread throughout their worldwide offices, 15 percent cuts mean around 215 people will be laid off.
Unfortunately, this won’t be the first time BuzzFeed has made cuts to its staff. In June of 2018, BuzzFeed cut about 20 employees and in November of 2017, they cut closer to 100.
“Cutting your way to growth is usually not the way that works,” Ishmael Daro, former employee of BuzzFeed Canada said in relation to the statement Peretti released.
Daro worked for BuzzFeed Canada based out of Toronto from 2015 to 2018. He focused on propaganda, misinformation online, far-right politics and Islamophobia. He left in October of 2018 to move to New York.
“We were lucky in Canada to survive those previous rounds of cuts without being affected,” said Daro. “I think being a smaller office helped protect us to a certain extent but, we never particularly felt safe.”
“The trouble with BuzzFeed and a lot of the new media companies is that they’ve taken on hundreds of millions of dollars of investments and those investors want to see a payout,” Daro said. “It’s starting to look less and less likely that people who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into BuzzFeed stocks, Vice etc.. are going to get the massive payouts that they were dreaming about.”
BuzzFeed is known for having big name investors and stockholders such as Andreessen Horowitz, NBC Universal and General Atlantic.
“They all thought they were investing in the next MTV, or the next Uber or the next Facebook and it’s just really unlikely that they are going to see that. I think those kinds of pressures are what is really driving this.”
Assistant editor for Ontario Hubs TVO and former managing editor of J-Source, H.G. Watson, has tweeted out her response to the cuts.
Many current and former BuzzFeed employees have taken to twitter to express their opinions on the announcement of cuts.
Peretti expressed his feelings in the memo by noting, “On a personal note, I’ve never thought about my job as “just business.” I care about the people at BuzzFeed more than anything other than my family. This will be a tough week for all of us and I realize it will be much worse for the people losing their jobs.”