NBCUniversal doubles its bet on BuzzFeed to $US400 million

Jonah Peretti Buzzfeed 8127Business InsiderBuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti

NBCU is finalising an investment of another $US200 million into BuzzFeed, at a valuation of about $US1.7 billion, according to Recode’s Peter Kafka, who cites sources. That would bring NBCU’s total investment in BuzzFeed to $US400 million.

A $US1.7 billion valuation is slightly raised from last year, when NBCU invested its first $US200 million in BuzzFeed at a valuation of $US1.5 billion (post-money).

This investment continues a trend of traditional TV giants investing in digital upstarts. Besides BuzzFeed, NBCU has invested $US200 million in Vox. Vice has $US400 million from Disney, Thrillist’s new holding company secured $US100 million from Discovery just last week, and Refinery29 snagged $US45 million from Turner this summer.

All are exploring getting their digital content onto TV.

This summer, BuzzFeed split into two pieces: news and entertainment, which is mostly video-focused. Video is where the major growth at BuzzFeed is, according to The New York Times, which said it would generate half of the company’s revenue in 2016, but balloon to 75% over the next two years. BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti even moved to LA in January, where the entertainment piece of the company is based.

This investment might signal that BuzzFeed’s money machine for video is ramping up, despite earlier reports.

In April, the Financial Times reported that BuzzFeed missed big on its 2015 projected revenue, pulling in $US170 million rather than the $US250 million it hoped to generate. Worse, the FT says that BuzzFeed’s 2016 revenue projection had been chopped in half to about $US250 million instead of the $US500 million it hoped it would generate over the next few months.

However, BuzzFeed’s chairman Ken Lerer told Business Insider at the time that BuzzFeed’s 2016 revenue goal was not changed, and it was not anywhere near $US500 million. Instead, Lerer reiterated that BuzzFeed hit its revenue targets for the first quarter of 2016 and is on track to hit its second quarter target. Further, he said Buzzfeed is on pace to meet its 2016 revenue goal.

Additional reporting by Alyson Shontell.

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