Comcast dumped 18.5% of its BuzzFeed stock in recent days, reducing its holdings in the online media company to just under 20% of the shares.
Comcast said its NBCUniversal unit netted almost $15.7 million in sales of 5.7 million shares since Monday in a regulatory filing.
In 2015, NBCUniversal invested $200 million in BuzzFeed and had plans to distribute its content on the digital news site. In the filing, NBCUniversal said it still owns more than 25 million shares, or 19.97% of BuzzFeed’s outstanding stock, but said it may continue selling.
At the current stock value, its remaining holdings are worth about $56.3 million.
The holdings represent just 6% of voting power of all outstanding shares, the filing said. No NBC representative sits on BuzzFeed’s board.
BuzzFeed went public in 2021 by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The shares were never highly valued, initially trading around $10 before slumping to a low of 63 cents in December.
But the listicle maker’s shares shot higher in the past two weeks on the strength of its foray into using artificial intelligence. The stock closed Wednesday trading at $2.18, more than double the 92 cents it closed at prior to the news.
Also revealed last week was a deal for BuzzFeed to provide content to Meta’s Facebook and Instagram that is bringing in millions. The deal, aimed at bringing more creators to the social media platforms, is valued at about $10 million and helped boost Buzzfeed’s beaten-down shares.
Comcast’s sales follow the runup of the stock.
In a regulatory filing, Comcast said it sold 1.98 million shares at close to $3.27 per share on Monday; 2.14 million shares at about $2.52 per share on Tuesday and 1.6 million shares for about $2.38 per share on Wednesday.
BuzzFeed laid off 12% of its staffers, across its sales, tech, production and content teams in December. A memo from CEO Jonah Peretti blamed the layoffs on “combination of worsening macroeconomic conditions, and the ongoing audience shift to vertical video, which is still developing from a monetization standpoint,” forcing BuzzFeed to cut costs.
The memo said the company would invest “in areas that drive growth” and shift away from “areas with lower audience engagement” but did not specify what that would entail.
Last week, Peretti said BuzzFeed will begin creating articles and other content using the AI generator ChatGPT sometime this year.
“You’ll see AI-inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business, enhancing the quiz experience, informing our brainstorming, and personalizing our content for our audience,” Peretti wrote in a memo.
“We see the breakthroughs in AI opening up a new era of creativity that will allow humans to harness creativity in new ways with endless opportunities and applications for good,” he wrote. “In publishing, AI can benefit both content creators and audiences, inspiring new ideas and inviting audience members to co-create personalized content.”
In late morning trading Thursday, BuzzFeed shares added 8 cents, or 3.7%, to $2.26. Comcast shares added 72 cents, or 1.7%, to $40.69, its highest point since late July.