54 Images That Show How Fluffy Creatures And Viral Content Come To Life At BuzzFeed

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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

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.

We interviewed BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, and founder and CEO Jonah Peretti. Then we took a tour of the 175-person, 2 floor headquarters in New York City.

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.

The conference rooms are large and spacious, with glass walls.

People were busy, so we snuck in a photo and went on our way.

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.

With that settled, it's back to work.

The skylight brightens the space.

Both floors have incredible views of Manhattan's Flatiron District.

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.

He's also working on a set of reviews for the old teen novel series, Sweet Valley High.

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.

Grumpy Cat was here recently and left his mark.

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.

Matt Bellassai has been a BuzzFeed Fellow since September.

Here's Kevin Lincoln, BuzzFeed's deputy sports editor (and a former Business Insider writer).

Small offices line the floor.

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.

Another office was in use for the Lifestyle vertical. After peeking in, we made our way downstairs.

The operational teams, including sales, marketing, and engineering, are down here.

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.

Small meeting rooms around the office are equipped with screens for videoconferencing.

OMG, here's a very exciting meeting!

The downstairs office takes up the entire 11th floor.

Ashley Baccam is a senior copywriter who has been with BuzzFeed for two years.

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.

Of course they have a big Nyan Cat cutout. Don't you?

But BuzzFeed's is signed by the meme's creator, Chris Torres.

This floor also features a large canteen where many employees eat lunch.

This fridge had a broken heart.

But this one was running fine.

More typical corporate fare for the slightly more corporate BuzzFeed floor.

But still plenty of startup snacks.

And well-labelled cabinets.

It was empty at the end of the day.

But BuzzFeed never sleeps, according to these funky posters on a pinboard.

You might not be able to handle it.

Behind the board: more people working.

Including Melissa Coleman, a BuzzFeed sales planner who is working on creative strategies for advertisers.

She got this cute little octopus from her brother.

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.

Tour complete, it's time to head out.

Want to check out another media giant Jonah Peretti helped create?

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