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BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

BuzzFeed has agreed to buy progressive news website HuffPost from Verizon Media in an all-stock deal, the companies announced Thursday.

Why it matters: HuffPost was once one of the most-trafficked news websites on the internet, but an over-reliance on social media distribution and a lack of strategic vision stripped the site of relevance in recent years.

  • The company — which was co-founded as The Huffington Post by BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, Arianna Huffington and media mogul Ken Lerer — was renamed HuffPost in 2017.
  • Its big, bold headlines and its sprawling network of contributors allowed it to scale across the internet quickly.
  • Verizon Media has been looking for a buyer for HuffPost for years.

Deal details: Verizon Media will invest in BuzzFeed, taking a minority stake in company. The deal is expected to close at the beginning of next year.

  • According to an internal memo sent from Peretti to staff, little will change in the short term on a day-to-day-basis. "Our business strategy is to make sure that the two newsrooms maintain their own identities to preserve the big and loyal audiences that each has built up," he wrote.
  • BuzzFeed News will remain a separate news organization, as will HuffPost. HuffPost will continue to operate its own website, social channels and app. It will also have its own editor-in-chief, which the company is still looking to hire.

What's in it for BuzzFeed? Scale for cheap.

  • BuzzFeed will add HuffPost to its network of big internet brands that perform well on social media and are good for selling commerce, like Tasty.
  • In a memo to employees about the deal obtained by Axios, Peretti said "HuffPost is one of the few digital content brands that is universally known, with significant scale, and a passionate, loyal audience that is different from ours."

What's in it for HuffPost? A lifeline.

  • Verizon has had to write down nearly half of its media investments that stem from pricey acquisitions of sites like AOL and Yahoo.
  • AOL bought HuffPost for $315 million in 2011. At the time, HuffPost's sale was considered one of the most successful venture capital exits in media.

What they're saying: The companies are billing the deal as a combination of synergies that will "unlock revenue for both companies through content syndication, new sales opportunities, commerce and [augmented reality]."

  • “Verizon Media’s strategy has evolved over the past two years to focus on our core strength — ads, commerce, content and subscriptions," said CEO Guru Gowrappan.
  • "With the addition of HuffPost, our media network will have more users, spending significantly more time with our content than any of our peers," said Peretti.

The big picture: Media consolidation has picked up speed over the past year, as the industry scrambles to survive the tough economic climate made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

What's next: Verizon Media says HuffPost will still be a content syndication partner for its distribution brands, like Yahoo — and that BuzzFeed will be able to syndicate content across Verizon’s Media brands. Verizon Media, which has a strong ad sales infrastructure, will continue to do ad sales for HuffPost.

Note: Former HuffPost co-founder and chairman Ken Lerer, who also served as the chairman to BuzzFeed, is an investor in Axios.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Economy & Business

Wanted: New media bosses, everywhere

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, HuffPost and Wired are all looking for new editors. Soon, The New York Times will be too.

Why it matters: The new hires will reflect a new generation — one that's addicted to technology, demands accountability and expects diversity to be a priority.

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

24 mins ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.