A Son Of Israel's Ex-Prime Minister Created A BuzzFeed Clone, And It's Already Become Gigantic On Facebook

If PlayBuzz’s name doesn’t already conjure up the quizzes and shareable content associated with BuzzFeed, just take a look at the two websites’ front pages.

Shaul Olmert, a 39-year-old Israeli tech entrepreneur and the third son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, founded PlayBuzz in 2012, and now leads the startup as CEO alongside Tom Pachys and Yaron Buznach.

And the website’s traffic is exploding: in June, PlayBuzz had 70 million unique views, with about half of its traffic coming from Facebook, Olmert told Business Insider in an interview.

According to CrunchBase, the startup has raised about $US3.8 million in seed money. $US3 million of its funding comes from Israeli venture fund Carmel Ventures.

NewsWhip, a company that tracks and analyses how content gets shared online, recently released its numbers for the biggest Facebook publishers of June 2014. BuzzFeed came in second, trailing Huffington Post with 7.1 million shares. Making an appearance on the last spot of the top 10 list is PlayBuzz.

BuzzFeed was 10th on Quantcast’s lists of the most popular websites in the U.S. in early July. By comparison, PlayBuzz was the 29th most popular website. That’s not too bad for a website that mimics much of high-traffic, viral content machine BuzzFeed: PlayBuzz’s design, colour scheme, grid-like page layout, font, and colour scheme are all incredibly similar to BuzzFeed’s signature look.

BuzzFeed employs 170 people, according to the Pew Research Center’s report on the state of news media.

Most of BuzzFeed’s content comes from its employees, though it does have sponsored posts and a community section, where any user can write up a post. BuzzFeed’s content strikes a balance between reported stories on a variety of issues and viral content.

In comparison, PlayBuzz has 16 staffers and only three writers. It relies heavily on user-generated content, all of which comes in the form of lists, quizzes, and trivia.

But the PlayBuzz CEO doesn’t think his website is like BuzzFeed’s at all.

“BuzzFeed is very fortunately positioned. Whenever anyone creates forms of viral content, they get compared to BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed never invented neither viral content nor quizzes,” Olmert said.

“We’re not comparing ourselves to BuzzFeed.”

Digital publishers like Huffington Post and MarthaStewart.com use PlayBuzz’s ready-to-use post formats to promote their own content.

PlayBuzz’s posts, unlike BuzzFeed’s, are embeddable, which is attractive to independent publishers and other news organisations trying to capitalise on the success of viral posts.

PlayBuzz is not the only website to seemingly attempt to recreate BuzzFeed’s recipe for viral success. ViralNova and Distractify have employed similar tactics to encourage clicks, and they have experienced varying degrees of success. But PlayBuzz is certainly the most similar to BuzzFeed in terms of content and design.

BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein even wrote a story in March denouncing PlayBuzz, which it refers to as a “BuzzFeed clone.”

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