Cute animals plus news site Buzzfeed just raised a whopping $19.3 million for its fourth – “series D” – round of funding.
NEA led the deal. Previous investors RRE, Hearst, SoftBank, and Lerer Ventures participated.
Buddy Media cofounders Michael and Kass Lazerow, rolling in it after the sale of that company to Salesforce.com, also invested.
$20 million is a big fund-raise for this kind of media company.
It’s an especially large amount considering that Buzzfeed raised $15 million just last year, and millions before that.
It is going to be a challenge for these investors to get a huge return on their investment.
The Huffington Post, which many say had an inflated inflated exit when it was taken out by AOL, only sold for ~$350 million.
In a release, Buzzfeed says it has 40 million unique visitors each month.
Here is the release:
New York, January 3, 2013 – BuzzFeed, the web’s leading social publisher, announced today that it completed a Series D financing of $19.3 million led by NEA. Previous investors RRE, Hearst, SoftBank, and Lerer Ventures participated. Michael and Kass Lazerow, serial entrepreneurs and co-founders of Buddy Media, joined the round as new investors.
“We have the senior management, board, and investors we need to build the next great media company: socially native, tech enabled, with massive scale. We are all focused on that big goal and raised this capital to move even faster,” said Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed Founder and CEO.
In December, the company passed 40 million unique monthly visitors (Google Analytics), with growth driven by social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and mobile (over one third of all BuzzFeed traffic). The company also grew revenue more than threefold in 2012, exclusively from content-driven, social advertising, and grew staff to 180 employees.
One year ago, Ben Smith joined the company as its first Editor-in-Chief and has launched 10 content verticals and bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Smith has built an acclaimed editorial team of 70 reporters and editors, and BuzzFeed’s coverage of the 2012 election made it “the defining media outlet of 2012” according to The New Republic.
Under the leadership of Ze Frank, BuzzFeed’s Executive Vice President of Video, the company expanded into original video in 2012 and is routinely producing multi-million view social video hits on YouTube including “True Facts About the Angler Fish,” “The Perfect Guide to Holiday Etiquette,” and “The Angriest Babies in the Whole World.”
“We are laser focused on building a media company from the ground up for a world where social is the dominant way people discover and engage with all forms of media. That means reimagining and reinventing editorial, advertising, and publishing technology” said Jon Steinberg, BuzzFeed President and Chief Operating Officer.
“We couldn’t be more excited to build the defining media company for the social era with Jonah and the team,” said Patrick Kerins, who led the investment for NEA and sits on BuzzFeed’s board. “We think BuzzFeed will be one of the great media companies of the next decade.”
The company also recently hired Jeff Greenspan from Facebook and BBDO as its first Chief Creative Officer. Greenspan and his team work with top brands such as GE, Virgin Mobile USA, Campbell’s, Microsoft, Pepsi, and leading agencies, such as OMD, Digitas, MEC, The Media Kitchen (a MDC Partners agency), Mediastorm, and Horizon to create shareable branded content that is distributed and optimised across the social web using proprietary BuzzFeed technology. BuzzFeed also optimizes this content via Facebook Sponsored Stories and Promoted Tweets.
“The big shift to social has arrived and BuzzFeed is building the defining media company for the social age,” said Lazerow. “I’m very excited to invest and advise a company that is leading the industry forward with an innovative approach to both social content and social advertising.”
The company will use the capital to further mobile development, expand geographically, grow its editorial team, invest in video, and work on new initiatives that will be announced later in the year.