Buzzfeed Raises $19M for Listicle Empire

BuzzFeed Inc., the prolific online publisher of quirky animal photos, 1990s retrospectives and autocorrect mishaps, raised $19.3 million in funding from an investor group led by venture firm New Enterprise Associates.

Previous investors such as Lerer Ventures, Hearst Corp. and Softbank Corp. (9984) participated in the funding round, the New York- based startup said today in a statement, bringing its total money raised to $46 million. Michael and Kass Lazerow, co- founders of Buddy Media Inc., also invested.

The company relies on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to spread its posts, videos and list-based articles, or “listicles,” such as “Twelve New Year’s Resolutions Inspired By Justin Bieber.” Revenue increased more than threefold in 2012, fueled by social advertising that BuzzFeed creates for clients internally, the company said.

“We see a big opportunity to be the leading social publisher,” Chief Operating Officer Jon Steinberg said in an interview. “That’s how people are increasingly getting the vast majority of their media.”

The company is planning to expand its staff of 180 employees with new offices in Los Angeles and Europe -- likely in London, he said. BuzzFeed also will almost double the size of its team creating social advertisements to 40 people. About 30 percent of revenue comes from ads it runs on websites other than BuzzFeed, Steinberg said. He declined to give specifics on the company’s financial results or valuation.

‘Angriest Babies’

The company also branched out last year into creating original videos, including clips such as “The Angriest Babies in the Whole World.”

BuzzFeed has 70 reporters and editors, who are increasingly delving into weightier topics such as political coverage. BuzzFeed hired Ben Smith, a senior political writer for the Politico site, to be its editor-in-chief in December 2011.

Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s founder and chief executive officer, co-founded the Huffington Post with Arianna Huffington in 2005. Huffington Post had raised about $35 million in venture capital before it was acquired by AOL Inc. for $315 million in 2011. Peretti started BuzzFeed in 2006 while still at the Huffington Post, aiming to create a site filled with viral content. In those days, most of the content was delivered via algorithms, not curated by humans.

Buddy Media, the company started by two of BuzzFeed’s new investors, was sold to Salesforce.com Inc. for about $689 million last year. Its offers services that help customers sell advertising through social networks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Frier in New York at sfrier1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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