“Emerson Collective, the social impact enterprise founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is in talks to back BuzzFeed’s news division, Variety has been able to confirm,” Janko Roettgers reports for Variety. “Talks between the two companies are said to be in very preliminary stages, and have not yet reached the stage of high-level business discussions.”
“The talk of a possible investment comes two months after news surfaced that BuzzFeed may have missed its 2017 revenue targets, with sources telling The Wall Street Journal at the time at the company’s revenue for the year may be up to 20% below its $350 million goal,” Roettgers reports. “BuzzFeed was at one point positioning itself for a possible IPO, but that prospect seemed less likely in light of the reported revenue miss, and a general volatile outlook in the media space — all of which could give the idea of a backing by an outside entity more credence.”
“Emerson Collective, which was founded by Jobs in 2004, previously invested in Axios, and acquired the majority of The Atlantic last summer,” Roettgers reports. “Its investment portfolio also includes the podcast startup gimlet media, ‘Mr. Robot’ production company Anonymous Content, and VR studio Within.”
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“BuzzFeed, which split its business into separate news and entertainment units 18 months ago, has won plaudits for its news coverage but was recently hit by a round of lay-offs in London and New York,” Matthew Garrahan and Shannon Bond report for Financial Times. “Its distributed content model, which relies heavily on social media, also has been hit by recent changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithm, which has relegated professionally produced content below pictures and other posts shared by friends and families.”
“In November, BuzzFeed announced a reorganisation aimed at lessening its reliance on native advertising distributed over Facebook and increasing other sources of sales, including ecommerce, videos and licensing,” Garrahan and Bond report. “Ms Powell Jobs, whose net worth is estimated at more than $20bn by Forbes, founded the Emerson Collective in 2004. The philanthropic organisation is focused on education, environmental issues, immigration reform and social justice initiatives but has recently begun to build a roster of media investments.”
“A spin-off or separation of BuzzFeed News would be a new chapter in the evolution of one of the web’s most talked about digital companies. It published in full the controversial dossier on Donald Trump compiled by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which contained several unverifiable claims,” Garrahan and Bond report. “Ms Powell Jobs recently told The New York Times Dealbook conference that she believed ‘in the importance of free and unfettered press and media, and its role in our democracy.'”
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MacDailyNews Take: $20 billion can buy a lot of shit.
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