BuzzFeed last night announced a $50 million round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, at a reported valuation of $850 million. A couple of things to note:
1. This deal follows an acquisition offer earlier this year from Disney (DIS), as first reported by Fortune. We initially reported that talks broke down, in part, over price, and that that the offer may have been as high as $1 billion. But we (and others) later reported that the actual bid was closer to the $800 million range. That puts BuzzFeed’s latest $850 million valuation into better perspective.
Moreover: Three years ago, when Huffington Post sold to AOL for $315 million, it was profitable with $30 million in revenue, 25 million monthly unique visitors and 200 employees. BuzzFeed is expected to top $100 million in revenue this year at a profit, with 150 million monthly unique visitors and 550 employees.
2. None of BuzzFeed’s prior investors participated in this round and there were no secondary sales. That’s surprising, because many late-stage deals include one or the other (this round, a Series E funding, brings the seven-year-old company’s total investment to $96.3 million). Typically at this point, investors either re-up with pro-rata shares, or they cash out. But early investors and employees were not given the opportunity to cash out, Fortune has learned. “Everyone is all in,” one early investor said.
Given that BuzzFeed just turned down a lucrative offer in favor of going it alone, some early employees might be itching to sell some of their stock. Indeed, turning down Disney is a reason why Jon Steinberg, BuzzFeed’s COO, left the company in May. BuzzFeed Chairman Ken Lerer told Fortune at the time, “When [CEO] Jonah [Peretti] decided he didn’t want to sell to anybody, obviously that started conversations about different opportunities and Jon wasn’t willing to say, ‘Okay guys, I’m in this for another four, or six, or ten years.” Steinberg quickly resurfaced as CEO of Mail Online, the digital business of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail.
BuzzFeed’s funding comes as the company reorganizes itself, splitting off its video operations into a group called BuzzFeed Motion pictures. Later today, Fortune.com will publish interviews with Ze Frank, BuzzFeed’s head of video, Jonathan Perelman, general manager of video and CEO Jonah Peretti.
In a related video, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti tells Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer about how he’s thinking about the future of his publication. You can watch it here.