BuzzFeed’s financial failures are ominous for digital woke media

January 14, 2022

By John Ransom

BuzzFeed, the progressive outlet once considered a “media visionary,” has lost more than $1 billion in value in the last year as its failed public stock offering collided with a declining appetite for progressive propaganda. 

The company that in 2016 was valued at $1.7 billion is now trading at a market capitalization of near $600 million, a loss of nearly 70%. And much of those losses have come since the company went public last month in December of 2021. 

This year has quashed expectations that progressive digital media companies, like BuzzFeed, Vice and Vox can successfully buy out other media companies in an attempt to create a “go-woke” platform that will dominate the progressive publishing market. 

Vox, Vice and Bustle each had plans to go public, as BuzzFeed did, in a race that was to decide which company would be biggest. 

“BuzzFeed’s entry into the public markets is likely to give it an advantage,” said the New York Times in a story about progressive digital media companies that included Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox in July 2021. 

“In addition to cash, it will be able to use its stock as currency to make another deal along the lines of its HuffPost purchase,” added the Times.  

BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost in 2020 and Complex Networks in 2021, but was counting on an infusion of $288 million in cash and the value of its public stock to continue buying complementary businesses. 

It needed that extra money because BuzzFeed still loses money. 

Instead, BuzzFeed only got $16 million in cash. Then, its stock value fell immediately from the $1.5 billion it was priced at — $10 per share — to currently around $4.90.  

The market, it seemed, was suspicious about the prospects for BuzzFeed. 

And the market was right. 

“Management’s financial projections… are almost laughable,” Seeking Alpha, a stock website, said about BuzzFeed’s 2021 financial results versus projections. 

“Given that their 2021 estimated numbers are so far off the likely results, it makes the numbers for years further into the future to be very questionable.”

It’s a tough environment for progressive media at a time when uber-woke CNN saw a decline in viewership of 90%. 

Since the BuzzFeed stock offering debacle, Vox has said it has no plans to go public.

Vice, for its part, had already taken going public off the table in September, because after all, who would want to invest in a failing company? 

“This [investment] is basically a bridge to figuring out something,” a source told the New York Post about the failed Vice stock deal. “They [Vice] are in a pretty awful spot.”

And so is the rest of the progressive media industry as BuzzFeed looks at a bankruptcy price of under $5. 

“Rightly or wrongly, fair or not fair, all digital media companies will be significantly tethered to BuzzFeed,” Bryan Goldberg, the CEO of Bustle Digital Group told Vox’s ReCode last year. “The fate of BuzzFeed is going to determine the fortunes of a lot of other companies.”



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