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130 million: Monthly unique visitors to the social news site

Whey they matter: BuzzFeed might be known best for listicles and pop-culture quizzes, but since The Huffington Post co-founder Peretti, 40, began his viral content experiment in 2006, the site has built on Facebook posts and Twitter links to become a media powerhouse of more than 180 staffers across six international newsrooms. BuzzFeed takes a data-driven approach to making content that will generate, well, buzz. Smith calls Peretti a "distribution genius" whose secret formula for viral success is central to the company's DNA. "He's incredibly brilliant and sees things about the media business like no one I've ever encountered before," he says. "But he's also hilarious. His editorial suggestions are three-quarters brilliant and one-quarter would-be disasters if we ever did them." For his part, Smith, 37, has brought a degree of credibility to BuzzFeed's journalistic endeavors, creating investigative, political, entertainment and foreign reporting units. Despite his more traditional career path -- he began on the crime beat at The Indianapolis Star and most recently was one of the top reporters at Politico -- he is as pragmatic about the role GIFs and baby animals play as he is serious about ramping up reporting (a notable hire in October: Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Schoofs as head of BuzzFeed's new investigative unit). "If you care about politics, you know we are breaking news," says Smith. "We also love making quizzes. People want to be entertained, and it's often the same people [who read both]."

Proudest accomplishment this year: "We got some of the best coverage in the world of the Ukraine crisis," says Smith. "It's traditional foreign reporting, but with an eye for the fact that this news spreads on Twitter."

Big get: "Our coverage of the sexual assaults at Occidental College really moved the ball forward," says Smith.

Off-hours: "I have three kids, ages 10, 8 and 4," says Smith. "We hang around Brooklyn and go geocaching, this incredibly nerdy thing where there's this whole network of random people hiding things around the world."

How Smith's peers view him: "The joke people make about me is that I manage by wandering around. It's a real management style: I just wander around and talk to people."