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BuzzFeed Chairman Ken Lerer to Step Down

Board members are undecided if they will name a new chairman

Ken Lerer is stepping down as chairman of BuzzFeed, the digital publisher he has overseen for the last 10 years.

Lerer is departing for personal reasons in order to pursue other projects and focus on his venture fund, an individual with knowledge of his decision told TheWrap. The board has not determined whether it will name a new chairman. Co-founder Jonah Peretti remains as CEO.

Lerer is leaving during a bit of rocky time for the 12-year old publisher. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed laid off around 200 people — 15% of its staff — which gutted the national news and national security desks, while the LGBT beat was trimmed to a single staffer.

The company made over $300 million in revenue in 2018 and is on track to become profitable in 2020, the individual added.

The company is also in a heated battle with its employees over their newly formed union, which BuzzFeed has not yet formally recognized.

Last week, numerous BuzzFeed staffers staged a walkout to protest the company’s delay in recognizing the BuzzFeed News Union.

Lerer is managing director of his venture fund Lerer Hippeau. BuzzFeed is the second board that Lerer has exited recently, following his departure as Viacom’s director last year. Lerer Hippeau’s other media investments include Axios, Brat, Group Nine Media and Refinery29. Lerer sits on the board of Group Nine, which is owned by Discovery Communications, where his son, Ben, is the CEO. His daughter, Izzie, runs The Dodo, Group Nine’s animal-themed vertical.

Lerer has been one of the early pioneers of the digital-native news business. He co-founded the Huffington Post with Peretti and Ariana Huffington. He invested in BuzzFeed after Peretti left Huffington Post, and became chairman.

Axios first reported the news of Lerer stepping down.