BuzzFeed Preparing For 2018 IPO

With the S&P just shy of all time highs, and in the aftermath of the reasonably successful - for now - Snapchat IPO, the procession of companies set to go public has a new and somewhat surprising entrant: according to Axios, BuzzFeed is quietly making preparations to go public in 2018. While its financials remain opaque and its growth appears to have plateaued, Axios notes that "the widely (and poorly) copied BuzzFeed, which began as a "great cat site" and now has foreign correspondents and a massive BuzzFeed Motion Pictures studio in L.A.," has become "a defining brand of the Internet age", for better or worse.

Some of the key investment considerations for investors ahead of an IPO that would likely value Buzzfeed well above the Washington Times, and perhaps even the NYT, via Axios:

  • The pitch: BuzzFeed, with news and entertainment divisions, styles itself as a media-tech company with "the innovation obsessed culture and structure of a venture-backed tech company": "We are best known for exploding watermelons, The Dress, Tasty, award-winning news investigations, quizzes, and lists."
  • The strategy: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has turned down past offers from media companies, and has long planned to go public.
  • Peers: The Big Four of modern digital content companies are BuzzFeed, Vox, Vice and Group Nine Media (millennial-focused online publishers Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker).
  • All have partnered with traditional media companies: NBC invested in BuzzFeed and Vox (and is an investor in Axios), Disney invested in Vice, and Discovery invested in Group Nine.
  • "Vice wants to sell," a top industry source said.
  • What we're watching: Quartz — an Atlantic Media property which, rumor has it, almost sold to Japan's Nikkei a while back — also looks like it might be spiffing up for a possible buyer. Crain's reported this week that the site, designed for the global business class, has turned a profit, earning $1 million in 2016 revenue of $30 million. There have been lots of stories about its financial performance and potential of late — and all seem aimed at attracting possible suitors.

The real reason why BuzzFeed may be going public? At least according to Alexa, what was until recently a torrid growth pace may have finally peaked and perhaps even reversed.