A new step in the consolidation of the free online information sector, which has been experiencing difficulties for several years. The online news site BuzzFeed will take control of its competitor HuffPost, according to a statement released on Thursday.
The parent company of HuffPost, the telecommunications group Verizon, will take a minority stake in the new group formed with BuzzFeed, at the end of a transaction whose financial conditions have not been revealed. Under a partnership, BuzzFeed will also be able to take advantage of Verizon’s technical and commercial opportunities to develop.
Built on advertising, which until recently constituted almost all of their income, these sites have suffered from competition from internet giants. According to the eMarketer firm, Google, Facebook and Amazon thus captured more than 60% of online advertising revenue in 2019.
HuffPost, one of the first “pure players”
BuzzFeed and HuffPost each had to resort to layoffs to adapt to the new market environment. As early as 2018, BuzzFeed co-founder Jonah Peretti had already mentioned a merger with one or more market players. He had mentioned Vice, Vox, Refinery29 and Group Nine, but not HuffPost, which he also co-founded in 2005. Within a few weeks, in September and October 2019, the market had seen a wave of acquisitions.
Vice acquired women’s news site Refinery29, for an amount valued at $ 400 million by The New York Times, Vox, New York magazine and its sites, while Group Nine acquired PopSugar. This time BuzzFeed gets its hands on HuffPost, which was bought by the media group AOL in 2011 (itself passed under the fold of Verizon in 2015), for 315 million dollars.
Created in 2005, the Huffington Post, which became the HuffPost in 2017, was one of the first “pure players” of information on the Internet, a site without physical publication, only present online. It stays closer to a traditional media news site than BuzzFeed, which is ostensibly built to drive traffic and fuel social media. Now diversified into video, online games and business partnerships, BuzzFeed is significantly larger in size than HuffPost.