Oh, BuzzFeed. Don’t ever change.
The company just released what it says is its second ever mobile app, called Cute Or Not. As you might expect from the name, you’re asked to rate pets as (duh) cute or not, through a Tinder-style swiping interface. You can also upload photos of your own pets to see how they’re rated by other app users.
If you’re confused about why the company is launching a silly app like this (especially while building out its editorial team by hiring respected journalists), BuzzFeed Vice President of Product Chris Johansen knows where you’re coming from — he just published a blog post titled “What The Hell Are We Doing With Apps?”
The gist of Johansen’s post is that it’s become “increasingly apparent that shoehorning all the ways to experience BuzzFeed into one app doesn’t make sense,” so we can expect more one-offs like this in the coming year.
“We don’t see it as ‘unbundling’ as much as focusing,” he writes. “Instead of having one baseline for all types of stories and media, we need to build apps that can excel at providing the best experience for each.” (And yes, that means releasing a more serious, news-focused app, as well.)
I found this particularly interesting since the first time BuzzFeed really made sense to me was when then-COO Jon Steinberg (now at Daily Mail) pitched it as a modern version of the newspaper bundle, only it puts cute animals (rather than a fancy real estate or travel section) next to its serious news coverage.
A BuzzFeed spokesperson also told me that thanks to the acquisition of startup GoPop, the company now has two main app teams, one focused on the core BuzzFeed app and the other on experimental products. Cute or Not was a collaboration between the editorial and experimental mobile teams based on a previous project.
Anyway. The animals are pretty cute.