BuzzFeed sells Complex for $108.6 million, will lay off some staff

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BuzzFeed has sold Complex Networks to NTWRK, a livestreaming video commerce platform, at a significantly discounted price tag, and it will cut another 16 percent of its remaining staff, the company announced Wednesday.

The $108.6 million all-cash deal comes just more than two years since BuzzFeed acquired pop culture media startup Complex in December 2021 for nearly $300 million, more than double the cost of the current sale.

NTWRK, which is financially backed by LiveNation Entertainment and Main Street Partners, is also giving BuzzFeed about $5.7 million for use of the company’s New York offices and other employment-related costs, BuzzFeed said.

BuzzFeed will also cut 16 percent of its workforce in a “planned strategic restructuring,” aimed at reducing the company’s expenses. The restriction will allow BuzzFeed to “become more agile, sustainable and profitable,” per a company statement.

“The sale of Complex represents an important strategic step for BuzzFeed, Inc. as we adapt our business to be more profitable, more nimble, and more innovative,” CEO Jonah Peretti said. “This is also an opportunity to unlock greater value for the Complex brand by combining it with NTWRK’s expansive, commerce-driven business.”

Peretti said the changes will allow BuzzFeed Inc. to focus on its other brands, including news website HuffPost, food sites Tasty and First We Feast and the “Hot Ones” series. First We Feast and “Hot Ones” were part of Complex’s brand, but they will remain with BuzzFeed after the deal, Variety reported.

The deal marks the latest shakeup for BuzzFeed and comes less than a year after the digital media company announced in April it would shut down its news division. The shuttering included the layoffs of 15 percent of its workforce, with Peretti citing a “tech recession” and a “tough economy.”

BuzzFeed, which has been known as a news, quiz and games website since its launch in 2006, has struggled to stay profitable in a changing media landscape.

It follows a series of media companies cutting workers amid a difficult advertising market and changing news consumption habits. More than 800 employees in the media industry lost their jobs in January alone, according to data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

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