Not too many years ago, announcing major news on a Sunday evening in the middle of August would seem crazy. If it was news you wanted anyone to read, anyway.
News dropped tonight — a Sunday evening in the middle of August — that BuzzFeed raised $50 million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz. And as a shining example of just how much Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we digest news, it’ll almost certainly dominate the conversation all week.
The obvious response here: “LOL, $50 Million. That buys a lot of GIFs.”
But there’s more to it then that.
The Internet tends to poke fun at BuzzFeed for some of their habits — but for better or worse (this spot intentionally left neutral), BuzzFeed has completely changed the way people read content, and the way media outlets produce it. It’s been insane — and perhaps a bit scary — to watch.
There’s also quite a bit to BuzzFeed beyond the content that we all see; in his blog post on the round, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Dixon (who will be joining BuzzFeed’s board) calls them a “full stack startup” — a way of saying that they build pretty much everything they need, from end-to-end.
At the top, you’ve got the content — which, beyond the lists they’ve come to be known for, they’ve spent the last year or two expanding at an insane pace. They’ve hired writers in every industry from politics to tech (Dixon pins the editorial staff at 200+). They’ve pulled in Ze Frank to help them crack video.
Below that, they’ve got their custom CMS, their own analytics engine, and their (increasingly controversial) “native” ads/ad team. Building all of that is impressive; building all of it in a way that scales to the amount of traffic BuzzFeed sees (as one of the most popular sites on the Internet)? A feat.
And they’re profitable all the while.
Love’m or hate’m, this investment makes a lot of sense. BuzzFeed isn’t going away anytime soon.