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Buzzfeed Raises $15M to Bolster Growing Editorial Vision

Infusion gives new editor-in-chief Ben Smith money to ramp up the reporting at site known for viral videos and memes

BuzzFeed’s new editor has $15 million to play with.

The social-driven website known for viral videos and memes surprised many in December when it announced Ben Smith, one of Politico’s star reporters and bloggers, was coming aboard as its editor-in-chief.

It continued to up the ante on Monday, announcing a $15.5 million investment round from the likes of Lerer Ventures, Hearst Interactive Media, RRE Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Softbank.

Ken Lerer, the founder of Lerer Ventures and a major player in the founding of the Huffington Post along with BuzzFeed co-founder Jonah Peretti, will be the company’s new executive chairman. Patrick Kerins, general manager of News Enterprise, has joined the company’s board.

(By the way, some are already speculating about all those HuffPost connections).

TechCrunch broke the news of the new financing, which Peretti has said will be used to fund original reporting.

The main reason the arrival of Smith initially came as a surprise is that he is a widely respected journalist and BuzzFeed, while wildly popular, is not a place renowned for hard-hitting journalism.

Smith has promised to change that without abandoning the social nature of the site.

One way of boosting the reporting on the site? $15 million.