BuzzFeed Is Downsizing

A source told Gawker that cuts were expected “across shared services (finance, PR, IT, HR) as well as Complex and BuzzFeed editorial.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Founder and CEO of BuzzFeed Jonah H. Peretti speaks on stage durin...
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Three months after BuzzFeed went public, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced in a call Tuesday morning that he projected a revenue loss this year and is planning to shrink Buzzfeed’s workforce. The cuts will impact workers across BuzzFeed and Complex, which the company acquired last summer before going public.

“This morning, we announced plans to accelerate profitability for BuzzFeed News,” Peretti said on the call, “including leadership changes, the addition of a dedicated business development group, and a planned reduction in force.”

A source told Gawker that the company was planning to announce “about 50 layoffs as part of their Q4 earnings on Tuesday (which will report a revenue miss) across shared services (finance, PR, IT, HR) as well as Complex and BuzzFeed editorial.” A spokesperson for BuzzFeed disputed that number — they claimed the cuts will impact 1.7 percent of the total workforce, or “about 25” roles. An internal memo obtained by Adweek’s Mark Stenberg announced the cuts will come in the form of voluntary buyouts, rather than layoffs.

In Buzzfeed’s first Q4 earnings call on Tuesday, Peretti announced that, while the company reported that while revenue for the fourth quarter had increased by 18 percent, that EBITDA, or “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization,” had fallen by 12 percent. He also projected an EBITDA loss this year of between $15 million and $20 million.

In spite of those losses, Peretti seemed bullish on other forms of “content development” — specifically on TikTok and in the metaverse. Though the company will cut the Complex editorial staff, Peretti said the network’s projects like ComplexCon and ComplexLand would accelerate their “ability to meet and increase demand for new connected experiences in the metaverse.” And though some 1.7 percent of the workforce will be taking buyouts this year, Peretti added that on TikTok and other platforms they planned to “double the size of their creator network.” Interesting.

News of the downsizing arrived on the heels of several resignations from top editors at BuzzFeed News. The departing editors include BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs, deputy news editor Tom Namako, and executive editor of investigations Ariel Kaminer.

In the memo, Schoofs wrote: “The next phase is for BuzzFeed News is to accelerate the timeline to profitability and undergo a strategic shift so that we will get there by the end of 2023. That will require BuzzFeed News to once again shrink in size.”

And earlier this year, several more high-level employees left the company, including Complex’s editor-in-chief, Maurice Peebles. “The temperature is not great right now across BuzzFeed,” Gawker’s source said, “and there are darker days ahead…”

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