BuzzFeed Sells Complex Media and Lays Off 16% of Its Staff

BuzzFeed has completed the sale of Complex Media to the Ntwrk e-commerce platform, a move aimed at stabilizing its financial position, alongside announcing layoffs across the company.

The transaction, announced on Wednesday, February 21, saw Complex Media change hands for an all-cash purchase price of $108.6 million. The partnership includes Universal Music Group as a strategic partner, with notable investors like Jimmy Iovine, Goldman Sachs, and Main Street Advisors. Despite the sale, BuzzFeed Inc. will retain ownership of key Complex franchises such as First We Feast and Hot Ones. Ntwrk unveiled their acquisition through a video, highlighting their vision for the company as a hub for sneakers, streetwear, collectibles, content, and music. Additionally, BuzzFeed will receive $5.7 million related to Complex’s use of its New York offices, along with covering severance and employment-related expenses. The company also disclosed plans for layoffs, expected to affect around 16% of its workforce, marking the second significant reduction in staff following the closure of its news division and the loss of 180 jobs last April.

Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed Inc.’s CEO, described the sale as a strategic move to enhance profitability, agility, and innovation within the company, and to elevate the Complex brand through Ntwrk’s commerce-focused operations. BuzzFeed, which acquired Complex Media in 2021 for $294 million, will share more details about its restructuring on February 28.

Aaron Levant, co-founder of Ntwrk, expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, noting his long-standing admiration for Complex since its magazine days in 2002 and his anticipation for leading the brand into a new era. He aims to establish a premier global platform that merges content, commerce, and experiences within the convergence culture. Interscope Geffen A&M and Capitol Music Group have also expressed their intentions to collaborate with the newly formed company. Jimmy Iovine highlighted the potential impact of combining Complex’s influence with Ntwrk’s creator-centric approach on future consumer technology advancements.


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