BuzzFeed Acquires Startup Torando Labs To Create A New Data Engineering Team

BuzzFeed is announcing its first acquisition since it raised a $50 million round from Andreessen Horowitz over the summer — it’s buying Torando Labs, and the Torando team will form the online publisher’s first new data engineering unit.

While best-known for its love of GIFs and quizzes, BuzzFeed is also a famously data-savvy company — see, for example, this profile of Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s head of data science and growth, who became its publisher earlier this month.

BuzzFeed already has a 10-person data science team, but CTO Mark Wilkie told me that the new data engineering team’s goal is to build the technical infrastructure to support those efforts.

“We wanted to double down on big data,” Wilkie said, adding that building this infrastructure will allow BuzzFeed to protect its “competitive advantage.”

Torando co-founder and CEO Todd Levy, who was previously co-founder and CTO at Bitly (and, years before that, a software engineer at AOL, which owns TechCrunch), is now BuzzFeed’s vice president of data engineering, and he’s joined by his three Torando team members. Wilkie said the plan is to “grow a team around them.”

What was Torando was up to before this? Well, it doesn’t seem like the startup sought out any attention from the tech press — Wilkie would only say that it released an app that “never got the traction they wanted.” (Torando is listed as the company behind an opinion-sharing mobile app called Gelato.)

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Previous BuzzFeed acquisitions include Facebook-focused ad startup Kingfish Labs.

Update: An earlier version of this post stated that this would be BuzzFeed’s first data engineering team, which is what the company told me initially. However, a spokesperson clarified that while Torando will indeed be forming a new team, there were BuzzFeed engineers working on data infrastructure already.

image: BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti at TechCrunch Disrupt