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June 24, 2021, 2:41 p.m.
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LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   June 24, 2021

One of the fun things about a media company going public is that it lets investors (and the rest of us) get a peek under the hood.

BuzzFeed, which now includes HuffPost, Tasty, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning BuzzFeed News plus smaller brands As/Is (beauty), Bring Me (travel), Goodful (health), Nifty (home), and Playfull (parenting), announced plans to go public through a SPAC merger on Thursday. The deal with 890 5th Avenue Partners Inc. — named after the headquarters of Marvel’s Avengers — will also bring pop culture and entertainment company Complex Networks under the BuzzFeed brand.

The company held an in-person (!) press conference and a slide deck for investors interested in $BZFD went around. Here’s a few things from the presentation that stood out.

Growth! A lot of it!

How do I put this? Some of the numbers seem…optimistic.

BuzzFeed plans to go public at an estimated valuation of $1.5 billion and predicts double-digit growth in multiple revenue buckets. The digital media company’s advertising revenue, for example, grew 13% in 2019 and 2020. But BuzzFeed management projects ad revenue to grow by 32% in 2021 and then at least 20% every year after that. (The industry-wide growth has been estimated around 7% for 2021.)

As CNBC’s Alex Sherman points out, BuzzFeed is serving as the digital media industry’s guinea pig here. A number of other outlets — Vice, Vox, Bustle, Group Nine, etc. — have made moves to go public via SPACs, too. Will investors agree that, as one slide puts it, “ad spend is shifting from mega platforms” like Google and Facebook? Those other media companies will be watching closely, as the reaction will affect their ability to follow in BuzzFeed’s footsteps.

BuzzFeed is betting on e-commerce

Commerce revenue — think affiliate sales and the like — was up 62% over the year. (A lot of people were shopping from home during the pandemic.) BuzzFeed sees commerce as an opportunity for “further monetization of high-value audiences” via  “unique,” “inspiration driven” content.

The company forecasts that its commerce revenue will grow from $57 million (13% of overall revenue) in 2020 to $330 million by 2024 (31% of overall revenue.)

It sure sounds as if BuzzFeed wants to acquire more media companies

In a note to staff, CEO Jonah Peretti writes that “as a public company, we’ll have even more opportunity and public stock as a currency to help us pursue attractive acquisitions.”

He laid out what he’s looking for:

Our approach will be to support and magnify the independent editorial voice of any media brand that joins us. We don’t buy other media brands because we want them to look, feel, and sound like BuzzFeed. We buy them because they are additive, they enrich our team with talented new creators, they expand the audiences we serve, and provide new ways of communicating and connecting.

Never not pivoting to video

One slide claims that “86% of users would like to see more video content from brands.” BuzzFeed sees the growth of video as a “massive secular trend” and added that “video advertising contributes to traffic growth, increases average session time, attracts potential customers and increases sales.”

You can see the full deck presented to investors here.

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