BuzzFeed to Lay Off 100 Employees, President Greg Coleman Transitioning to Advisory Role

Jonah Peretti - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Jonah Peretti - Getty - H 2016

The digital publisher's entertainment division is also being rebranded as BuzzFeed Studios.

BuzzFeed is laying off around 100 employees as it reorganizes the business team that leads its advertising sales efforts, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

As part of the changes, BuzzFeed president Greg Coleman will leave his post and become a senior adviser to the company, a role he previously held before taking on a full-time position with BuzzFeed. In a memo to staff Wednesday that was provided to THR, CEO Jonah Peretti thanked Coleman for his three-and-a-half years with the company and said he is "grateful for his ongoing help, particularly as an advisor to Tasty and BuzzFeed Japan." 

Peretti is now conducting a search for a CEO who would take on an expanded business role within the company. Meanwhile, chief revenue officer Lee Brown will begin reporting directly to Peretti. "I'm looking forward to partnering with him in a bigger way to build our future," Peretti wrote in his memo.

The layoffs represent about 8 percent of BuzzFeed's U.S. staff. The company is also reducing its head count in the U.K., making cuts on both the editorial and business sides of the regional branch as it refocuses on creating content for a global audience and developing its core coverage areas, including investigations, politics, media and social justice. 

The cuts come amid a Wall Street Journal report that BuzzFeed will miss its revenue projections this year by as much as 20 percent.

In his memo, Peretti characterized the reorganization of the business team as a response to the changes in the BuzzFeed business over the last few years, including the addition of new revenue streams from display advertising and programmatic. "Our business is more diverse and balanced than it was a year ago and, very importantly, for the first time a quarter of our annual revenue will come from sources other than direct sold advertising," he wrote, noting that 2017 was a "transformational year" for BuzzFeed's business.  

BuzzFeed's Los Angeles outpost, where it runs its video and entertainment efforts, is also on the receiving end of some changes. The group is being rebranded from BuzzFeed Motion Pictures to BuzzFeed Studios, a change that Peretti described as "bringing together our internal slate of original series and the robust pipeline of series we have in the works for external partners."

This is the second rebrand for the video division since 2014, when BuzzFeed Video became BFMP and Ze Frank was upped to president of the group. At the time, Frank and advisor Michael Shamberg laid out lofty goals for BuzzFeed to make a push into film and television. Three years later, the division has yet to launch a more traditional project. It is currently in development on a film adaptation of its Brother Orange series and its first television project, a true-crime series, is set at Oxygen. 

Other changes that BuzzFeed plans to make include the creation of BuzzFeed Media Brands, which will now house recipe video juggernaut Tasty among other verticals, including a soon-to-launch fashion and beauty franchise. The company is currently looking for someone to lead that new division. 

BuzzFeed also plans to expand its product business in 2018 and will work with BuzzFeed Media Brands on ways to extend those properties into physical goods. 

Peretti stated, "Our new structure will ensure that BuzzFeed continues to grow, transform our industry, and impact the lives of millions of people."

The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the layoffs.