BuzzFeed is voting to go public, but many of its employees have just left

Shareholders in 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, a specialty acquisition company, will vote Thursday to approve a merger with BuzzFeed. The SPAC agreement, announced in June, values ​​BuzzFeed at around $ 1.5 billion.
If approved, BuzzFeed plans to acquire Complex Networks, a media company operated as a joint venture by Verizon (VZ) and Hearst, which owns popular brands First We Feast and Sole Collector, for $ 300 million.
Over the past 15 years, BuzzFeed has grown from a website best known for its listings, quizzes and other viral content to a digital media company with a portfolio of brands and an award-winning news department. Last year, BuzzFeed entered into an agreement with Verizon to buy HuffPost, the digital media brand Jonah Peretti co-founded the year before launching BuzzFeed. In June, BuzzFeed News received a Pulitzer Prize.

Members of the news division’s union staged a walkout on polling day to draw attention to ongoing issues regarding negotiations on their union contracts.

“We’ve been negotiating our contract for almost 2 years, but BuzzFeed will not shake up critical issues like pay – all while preparing to publicize and make leaders even richer,” the union said. twitret. “[W]I’m going to send you a reminder that there is no BuzzFeed News without us. “

BuzzFeed had become known for its ability to attract younger audiences, and cover trend news in an accessible and engaging way. It received interest from older media, including NBCUniversal, which invested $ 200 million in BuzzFeed worth $ 1.7 billion in 2016.

But BuzzFeed later struggled to meet the demands that came with it its high valuation as it competed with other media companies along with technological platforms such as e.g. Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) for ad dollars. Facebook also implemented changes to the news feed algorithm that cut audience traffic for many publishers, including BuzzFeed.
“There was a period of abundance and hype around digital media, and that hype cycle allowed a lot of capital to flow into space,” Peretti told Recode in June. “And then there was a time when there was a lot more skepticism, and a demand to build a real business. And now we’ve built a real business.”
In fact, BuzzFeed and its other digital media companies have grown up in the 21st century – or, in some cases, exploded. Some found their exit through mergers or acquisitions with other media companies. Mashable sold to Ziff Davis. Bustle, now BDG, bought Mic. Vice Media acquired Refinery29. PopSugar joined Group Nine Media. Vox Media merged with New York Media.
Now the leaders of these media companies have their eyes open for BuzzFeed’s stock market debut when considering their own SPAC agreements. Vice-founder Shane Smith told Insider last month that the company’s board and management team put their previous SPAC plans on hold, but that may change.

“If the timing comes and we plan for 2022 and traffic and events do what we think they’ll do, then the sky is the limit,” Smith said.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story has incorrectly characterized the size of the staff resignation.

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