BuzzFeed’s Q1 Revenue Rises to $92 Million, But Commerce and Engagement Down Again

Commerce revenue sinks 27%, while time spent on sites declines 4%

BuzzFeed Earnings
Photo illustration by Otavio Rebelo/TheWrap

BuzzFeed, Inc. on Monday reported its first-quarter earnings as a public company, with results showing growing content revenue but declining commerce revenue and time spent on its sites and third-party platforms. Its losses for the quarter also increased significantly from the previous year.

The digital media company reported a quarterly revenue of $92 million, up 26% year-over-year. This quarter, its content revenue totaled $32.3 million, up 65%, and commerce revenue was $10.6 million, down 27%. Advertising is still its biggest revenue driver, generating $48.7 million, up 26% year-over-year.

The quarterly loss was $44.6 million, compared to $11.3 million in the year prior. Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $16.8 million, compared to a loss of $4.3 million in the first three months of the year 2021. Time spent on BuzzFeed sites and third-party platforms also declined 4% year-over-year to 184 million hours across its owned and operated properties and third-party platforms.

“I’m incredibly proud of all that our team accomplished in the first quarter,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in a statement. “We completed the unification of the sales, business and admin teams across BuzzFeed and Complex Networks, demonstrated agility across our editorial, video and news teams in serving ever-evolving audience and consumer preferences, and delivered first-quarter revenue and adjusted EBITDA in line with the outlook that we shared in March.”

For Q2, the company expects revenue to grow to a low twenties percentage year-over-year and adjusted EBITDA in the range of $2 million to $7 million.

Earlier this year, the media company also said it planned to slash news jobs through voluntary buyouts in an attempt to curb its losses at the news division, which loses some $10 million per year and employs about 100 people.

BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost last February and then Complex Networks and began trading publicly in December. Last year after merging with the special purpose acquisition company 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, share prices have declined some 50% from around $9 from December during its IPO and remained around $5 in the last three months. BuzzFeed shares were trading at $3.69 on Monday at the close of market.

The biggest challenge for BuzzFeed has been Peretti’s attempt to pivot the company from media and content to an e-commerce player. In a pitch deck to investors last year, the company set a $1.5 billion valuation based on a projected profit of $117 million by the end of 2022 that will mostly come from e-commerce through content commissions, merchandise and other brands and events.