Last week we paid a visit to BuzzFeed, a media startup with a knack for creating viral content that’s driven its valuation into the nine-figure zone.One article, 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity, was viewed more than 10 million times—attracting its share of controversy. Meanwhile, its deep political coverage helped drive our understanding of the 2012 election. And don’t forget the cute corgis.
That mix of high and low permeates BuzzFeed: Its editors and algorithms aim to find what people care about enough to share with their friends, on a massive scale across the Internet.
The BuzzFeed office takes up two floors. The first floor houses much of the operational staff; the second floor is where the editorial team works.
For an online-only publication, BuzzFeed enjoys print. These books make up the BuzzFeed reading list.
First, we invaded the upstairs newsroom. That's where the team that attracts more than 30 million visitors a month sits.
There was a lively debate going on about how to respond to an unpleasant tweet another publication had fired at BuzzFeed. It's tough to be clever and defend yourself tactfully at the same time. Editor-in-chief Ben Smith, on the left, negotiates with Ashley McCollum, the company's press manager.
Jack Shepherd has been at BuzzFeed for four years now. He manages the site's Animals Verticals. He is a pioneer in the development of cat memes and cute kitten pictures. He also wrote 21 Images That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity, the post that attracted 10 million views.
Nearby, editorial director Scott Lamb is focused on Special Ops, the BuzzFeed team charged with finding and creating much of the site's most viral content.
Here's how it works: an editor finds something crazy/quirky/cool/funny/interesting/touching—and, most importantly, shareable.
Then, the editor shares the item with more senior BuzzFeed editors. Here, Lamb and Shepherd evaluate a post.
When the editor gets a laugh and a nod of approval from the senior editors, a BuzzFeed post is born.
Although there are no live animals in the BuzzFeed headquarters, animal trinkets and photos are scattered around. These are the bathroom keys: dolphins for the girls and sharks for the boys.
Inside the fridge is the kind of fuel you might expect an Internet hit-making factory to run on: wine and Freeze Pops.
Chris Ritter is a junior graphic designer who has been with the company since May. She is working on the site's Quotes section to create cool new ways to display words of wisdom.
The site has been working hard to increase its original reporting in the political arena. Here is a leftover from their robust election coverage.
Nearby the map are the BuzzFeed Fellows, a handpicked team assigned to learn the secrets of BuzzFeed's Special Ops team—a tradition passed down from generation to generation. It's a more structured kind of mentorship than the standard internship program for these future masters of the Interwebs.
And one of them belongs to Ben Smith, BuzzFeed's editor-in-chief. He's a major force behind the site's drive to increase original reporting and investigative scoops, particularly in politics.
Ben Running is a senior designer for the site. He never actually wears the BuzzFeed glasses that sit on his computer, but they are a cool piece of company swag to have around.
How could we visit one of the Internet's most important GIF factories without creating one of our own? Check out Baccam's Furby in action.
Including Melissa Coleman, a BuzzFeed sales planner who is working on creative strategies for advertisers.
And cute goes well in this office. Chris Baker (left) and Mike Lacker (right) are creative directors who work on integrating brands' content into the site.
Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, runs the operation from this centrally located office. The decorations are clean and modern, and the picture on his desk is of his two sons. While BuzzFeed may be branching out from cats and kittens, we did notice a cute, cuddly kitten pic on Peretti's mouse pad.
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