SAN FRANCISCO BuzzFeed received a $50 million investment from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which announced the funding Sunday in a blog post that likened the news and entertainment site to such industry-altering companies as Netflix and Tesla.
'Many of today's great media companies were built on top of emerging technologies. Examples include Time Inc. which was built on color printing, CBS which was built on radio, and Viacom which was built on cable TV,' wrote Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who said he'll be joining BuzzFeed's board.
A 'major technological shift' is occurring now: news and entertainment are increasingly distributed on social networks and consumed on mobile devices, Dixon wrote.
'We believe BuzzFeed will emerge from this period as a preeminent media company.'
BuzzFeed, co-founded by Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti, is one of the most successful new media companies that intentionally create content that is likely to get shared a change from earlier chapters of media on the Internet, which focused on luring readers and viewers via search or more simply, the draw of their desktop home page.
Business Insider, which has a similar focus on shareable content, last year received an investment from Jeff Bezos.
BuzzFeed became well-known for its highly popular list stories and slideshows of cute animals. It still has those (as of this writing, the second-most 'trending' article on the site was about a video of a 'adorable lion.') But it's pursued a harder news strategy, as well, hiring investigative and political reporters.
That early focus on memes and lists 'led some industry observers to dismiss BuzzFeed as a toy,' said Dixon. They were wrong, says Dixon, who then explains why a VC firm largely focused on tech is interested in a media company.
'The most interesting tech companies aren't trying to sell software to other companies. They are trying to reshape industries from top to bottom,' said Dixon. That's what BuzzFeed is doing, he maintains just as Tesla is doing in automative, Netflix in movies and Uber to the taxi business. (Here's Dixon's full post.)
BuzzFeed reaches over 150 million people a month, is 'consistently profitable' and will generate revenue in the triple-digit millions this year, wrote Dixon. The investment values the company at about $850 million, said the New York Times, which cited an unnamed person.
The success hasn't come without bumps. Last month, it fired its 'viral politics editor' Benny Johnson after finding 41 instances of plagiarism.
BuzzFeed previously received venture funding from Founders Collective, Hearst, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, RRE Ventures, SoftBank Capital and SV Angel, according to the Wall Street Journal.