BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Says The Site Is Profitable, With 85M Uniques And 300+ Employees

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti published a memo to employees today that laid out some details about the site’s growth, as well as its plans for the coming year.

For one thing, Peretti said that BuzzFeed posted “record profit in August” and that the company has “gone from zero revenue four years ago to a profitable company with over 300 employees.” As far as I can tell, that’s the first time Peretti has acknowledged that BuzzFeed is profitable, aside from mentioning “accidental” profitability in summer 2011 that was followed by a period of aggressive hiring.

Profitability is particularly impressive since it all comes from custom ad campaigns (such as the Pepsi-sponsored Listiclock that I wrote about last month), rather than all the other stuff that online publications (including TechCrunch) do to make money. This year BuzzFeed will run between 600 and 700 programs, Peretti said, compared to 265 last year.

Regardless of whether you love, hate or love-hate BuzzFeed (I like it, and not just because my roommate works there), I think it’s a rare feat to build a profitable media business of this size purely online.

Traffic has been growing, as well, with 85 million unique visitors in August, which Peretti said is three times bigger than a year ago and eight times bigger than two years ago. (Just to double-check, I asked comScore for its numbers on BuzzFeed, and it reported that the site saw 31.9 million global unique visitors on desktop in July, up 133 percent from July 2012.)

Peretti added that even though BuzzFeed will continue to experiment, there are some avenues that it definitely won’t pursue:

We will NOT launch a BuzzFeed TV show, radio station, cable network, or movie franchise – we’ll leave that to the legacy media and Hollywood studios. We will NOT launch a white labeled version of BuzzFeed to power other sites or a BuzzFeed social network – we’ll leave that to pure tech companies in Silicon Valley. We will NOT launch a print edition or a paywall or a paid conference business – we’ll leave that to other publications.