Kenneth Lerer Stepping Down as BuzzFeed Chairman

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Kenneth Lerer

The managing director of venture firm Lerer Hippeau remains a board member at Group Nine Media, where son Ben Lerer is CEO.

Kenneth Lerer is stepping down from his post as chairman of BuzzFeed after more than a decade with the digital publisher. 

The longtime media investor informed the board of his decision last week. Sources say that the move was for personal reasons and will give Lerer more time to focus on venture business Lerer Hippeau, where he is managing director.

His departure also comes at an inflection point for 12-year-old BuzzFeed, which earlier this year laid off more than 200 employees in a move to cut costs and reach profitability. The once high-flying startup, which counts NBCUniversal and Andreessen Horowitz as investors, has been among the publishers that have struggled under a shifting media landscape, particularly Facebook's move away from prioritizing professional content in users' News Feeds. 

In a memo penned ahead of his SXSW speaking engagement in March, BuzzFeed co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti acknowledged that the last year "has been a challenging one for publishers" and that the company had "done inspired, tireless work to diversify our business." He added that in 2018 and 2019, the company would generate $200 million in revenue from businesses that didn't exist in 2017, noting that he can "see a clear path to a bright future for BuzzFeed." Per sources, the company is ahead of its internal projections for becoming profitable. 

Lerer's departure from BuzzFeed's board comes a little more than a year after he left his post as a Viacom director. BuzzFeed has yet to announce if it will replace Lerer with a new chairman.

A former AOL senior leader and one-time communications executive, Lerer was among the co-founders of the Huffington Post alongside Arianna Huffington and Peretti. After Peretti left HuffPost to build BuzzFeed, Lerer invested through Lerer Hippeau and became chairman. Lerer Hippeau's other media investments include Axios, Brat, Group Nine Media and Refinery29. Lerer also sits on the board of Group Nine, where his son, Ben Lerer, is CEO and his daughter, Izzie Lerer, oversees animal-focused brand The Dodo.  

Axios first reported Lerer's departure.