Did Buzzfeed's union of overpaid and under-worked digital media workers help to drive away investors in the SPAC that was supposed to take the flailing digital media company public?
Yesterday, members of the Buzzfeed union walked off the job to protest what they claimed was the company's refusal to discuss a fair labor contract.
The NewsGuild of New York, which represents the journalists, said they plan to stop working for one day to call attention to the stalled contract negotiations, which have been grinding on for two years. The union says management has proposed 1% guaranteed wage increases per year and a salary floor of $50,000. While these levels might seem reasonable for a business where reporters are on average paid substantially less than that, the Buzzfeed union finds they are unacceptable.
And anybody who goes against the union will likely be ostracized by their coworkers and the rest of the blue-check-mark brigade.
"That is not a sustainable living wage, and it is not enough to attract a true diverse talent pool that’s crucial to the future of BuzzFeed,” the union said in a statement.
This drama with the company's spoiled union couldn't come at a worse time for the VC-funded digital media darling which has seen its prestige decline along with its readership over the past 5 years. After raising hundreds of millions of dollars in VC funding during the middle of the previous decade, Buzzfeed has faced intensifying pressure to show profits, with only mixed results.
On the cost side, its paid employees are constantly worried about being made redundant. Who can forget the story exposing Buzzfeed's most popular writer as a high school student who produces popular quizzes on the site...for free.
With shares of the new Buzzfeed SPAC debuting on Friday, there were reports earlier in the week claiming that some of the deal's institutional backers were getting cold feet. Yet, while Buzzfeed has clearly missed its fundraising target, the company has at least raised enough to allow it to continue with the offering.
Amazingly, the deal values Buzzfeed at $1.5 billion. It's expected to complete the aquisition of Complex Networks as well on Friday.