BuzzFeed snaps up HuffPost as part of content and ad tie-up with Verizon Media

BuzzFeed is acquiring HuffPost from Verizon Media, as part of a new strategic partnership across content and advertising between the both parties. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed by both parties.

At the same time, Verizon Media will also become a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed. Under the agreement, HuffPost will continue to contribute to Verizon Media's portfolio as an official publishing partner, joining sites such as The New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press and Reuters. Its content will be amplified via Yahoo channels and products, boosting traffic and monetisation. Verizon Media will continue to manage sales for HuffPost's ad inventory. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed will also be able to syndicate content across Verizon Media's brands including Yahoo.

Additionally, both BuzzFeed and Verizon Media will syndicate content across each other's platforms, create an innovation group to explore monetisation opportunities, and leverage emerging ad formats. These include extended reality and AR applications. At the same time, BuzzFeed can also leverage on Verizon Media Immersive, an online XR platform for advertising and content, as well as tap on its ad platform. Separately, the Wall Street Journal described the acquisition of HuffPost as a stock deal.

HuffPost, then known as The Huffington Post, was first acquired by AOL in 2011. Thereafter, Verizon bought AOL for about US$4.4 billion in 2015, to support and connect Verizon's Internet of Things platforms. Two years after the acquisition by Verizon, The Huffington Post shortened its name in 2017 to HuffPost. Former editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen explained previously that sometimes, it is "a good idea just to embrace the name that your audience has chosen". She added that the new name was "shorter", "snappier" and gives the publication "a more compact look". Polgreen left the company in March this year. HuffPost was co-founded by Jonah Peretti who is also BuzzFeed's founder and CEO.

Peretti said he has vivid memories of growing HuffPost into a major news outlet in its early years, but BuzzFeed is making this acquisition because it believes in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to define the media landscape "for years to come". "With the addition of HuffPost, our media network will have more users, spending significantly more time with our content than any of our peers," he added.

Meanwhile, Guru Gowrappan, Verizon Media's CEO, said the company's strategy has evolved over the past two years to focus on its core strengths - ads, commerce, content and subscriptions.

"The partnership with BuzzFeed complements our roadmap while also accelerating our transformation and growth," he said. He added that while considering opportunities to work together, both him and Peretti discussed HuffPost, a property he co-founded.

"We quickly realized BuzzFeed’s strategy would complement HuffPost’s roadmap, injecting it with new energy and growing the brand into the future," Gowrappan said.

BuzzFeed started getting serious with its news reporting two years back. Widely known for its social media friendly quizzes and lists as well as its celebrity related scoops, BuzzFeed gave its news portal, BuzzFeed News, a refresh, making it look like a newspaper with a black and white colour palette. Meanwhile, it laid off 50 employees in July to replace lost revenue during the pandemic. According to Bloomberg, 10 of the employees came from its news division. Months later in October, Peretti said that the company is "on target to break even" in 2020 for the first time since 2014, WSJ reported.

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