Why Comcast Sold 5.7 Million BuzzFeed Shares

As the digital media company struck deals with Meta and made plans to incorporate AI tools into its product, the stock has jumped.

Comcast has sold more than 5.7 million shares of BuzzFeed in recent days as the stock has jumped amid investor excitement about artificial intelligence-focused deals that the digital media company has struck with Facebook and Instagram parent Meta and OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT and DALL-E.

In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Comcast unveiled the sale of 5,726,385 BuzzFeed shares between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 at prices ranging from $2.75 to $3.465, $2.25 to $2.9275, and $2.15 to $2.6275, respectively.

Comcast’s entertainment unit NBCUniversal unit made an initial $200 million investment in BuzzFeed in 2015, followed by another capital injection of the same amount in 2016. The conglomerate disclosed in a filing that it owned, as of Wednesday, more than 25.15 million shares of BuzzFeed’s Class A Common Stock, amounting to a stake of 19.97 percent.

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BuzzFeed’s stock soared more than 100 percent on Thursday after CEO Jonah Peretti said the company would embrace the application programming interface from OpenAI to personalize such content as quizzes for its users. In a message to staff, Peretti said the “AI-inspired content” would move from the research and development stage to becoming a “part of our core business” beginning this month. BuzzFeed will not be using OpenAI’s interface to write news articles, a representative clarified to The Hollywood Reporter.

“To be clear, we see the breakthroughs in AI opening up a new era of creativity that will allow humans to harness creativity in new ways with endless opportunities and applications for good,” Peretti wrote. “In publishing, AI can benefit both content creators and audiences, inspiring new ideas and inviting audience members to co-create personalized content.”

Also last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta has struck a deal, valued at around $10 million, for BuzzFeed to make creator content for Meta platforms.

BuzzFeed’s stock has traded between $0.64 and $5.71 over the past 12 months and was below the $1 mark before the recent run-un. On Wednesday, it closed at $2.18.

The stock’s run-up is “underscoring the ascendance of generative AI, in our view,” Cowen analyst John Blackledge wrote in a Jan. 26 report. “The near-term benefit to BuzzFeed estimates is less clear.”

He explained: “While we think AI could eventually help BuzzFeed generate more content at a lower cost (and drive higher engagement and advertising), timing and impact of their growing adoption of AI is unclear at this point.” Blackledge maintained his “market perform” rating and $2 price target on the stock.