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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

is a news and entertainment website that mixes original reporting, user-generated work, and aggregation. The site is driven by social media as a source for finding what material is likely to become popular, and finding the best online channels on which to distribute it.

BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, a co-founder of the Huffington Post. Originally the site was designed to seek out the links people shared with one another on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other networks, and most often these items appear in lists containing videos, animated GIFs, or static images in a format meant to encourage sharing. As of 2014, it was the  and one of the in the U.S. as of 2014. In mid-2014, it had , with about 75% of that traffic coming from social media and half from mobile devices.

By January 2013 the site announced it had reached more than 40 million monthly unique users and had . Disney in 2014, and later that year, the site from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at a reported $850 million.

In 2011, BuzzFeed shifted direction with the hiring of Ben Smith as the site’s first editor-in-chief. The former Politico reporter was tasked with building out a news operation, hiring reporters, and building sections. The idea, as Smith wrote at the time, was turn build BuzzFeed into

Shortly after Smith’s hire BuzzFeed and began from places like Gizmodo, Rolling Stone, Popular Mechanics, and The Village Voice among others. Technology and politics were the first news sections to be launched in 2012. While Smith led the reporting in the politics section, with the presidential election BuzzFeed began adding more staff to cover the race, to cover the Obama campaign. BuzzFeed in the summer of 2012. It also  and in 2013,  several Middle East-based foreign correspondents and an  that year. The following year, it and eventually in Tokyo, Mexico City, and Mumbai. The site began gaining attention as a as well as fluffier viral content.

Upon its investment from Andreessen Horowitz in 2014, BuzzFeed that included new content units, an in-house technology incubator, and increased funding for its film division, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. With the expansion, it split its main editorial operation into BuzzFeed News, a lifestyle division called BuzzFeed Life, and an experimental social media-oriented division called Buzz.

By 2013, it that it was profitable and had a staff of more than 300.

The site would also for sports, women, and nostalgia, often poaching talent from online and , including former L.A. Times editors to oversee an entertainment section. In 2013, it was reported to be using crowdsourced translation from English language learners.

BuzzFeed also began investing in video with the to develop a web video studio in Los Angeles in the fall of 2012. By late 2013, it had a video staff of 32. The company also partnered with The New York Times to in 2012.

BuzzFeed runs a partner network of sites to which it sends traffic via links in exchange for tracking information about the traffic from those publishers. It in 2014 to build a new network around video.

In 2014, BuzzFeed edited by former Gawker writer Neetzan Zimmerman, allowing it access to Whisper’s content for articles. Initially, BuzzFeed devoted 15 writers to searching Whisper for material.

The site has been accused of  and some of the information it publishes. Between its immense popularity and often substantial reporting as well as its breezy and formulaic style, BuzzFeed has been seen as both an of journalism’s future. It has without notice, saying they and were made before the company considered itself a journalistic one.

Sponsored Content

BuzzFeed’s relies on an advertising strategy that eschews the banner ads in favor of what they call sponsored content. The site partners with companies like GE, Jet Blue, or Virgin Mobile, and designs a post that resembles the types of image heavy lists found elsewhere on BuzzFeed. The company has a division that to such sponsored content.

The company has a creative team, separate from BuzzFeed’s editorial staff, which works directly with advertisers to write the posts. While the content is similar to other BuzzFeed posts, the theme of the post typically or brand. In March 2012, BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg said BuzzFeed .

In September of 2012 , a company that complies Facebook data, to help drive traffic to sponsored content.

But BuzzFeed’s push into sponsored content, sometimes called branded content or native advertising, has been criticized.

Peers, allies, & competitors:

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Primary author: Justin Ellis. Main text last updated: August 14, 2014.
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