Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Vivek Ramaswamy calls for job cuts at BuzzFeed

May 28, 2024
Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy addresses the media outside of Manhattan Criminal Cour

Vivek Ramaswamy. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Former GOP presidential nominee Vivek Ramaswamy is requesting three board seats and a slew of changes at BuzzFeed, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The entrepreneur is ramping up his fight against BuzzFeed and its CEO and seeking to overhaul the media outlet.

Catch up quick: Ramaswamy's campaign comes after BuzzFeed's stock has cratered since going public in 2021, dropping from $40 per share to cents on the dollar earlier this year.

  • Shares are up to nearly $3 per share as BuzzFeed initiates significant cuts such as selling Complex.

Driving the news: In a letter to the company's board, Ramaswamy wrote that he has an 8.37% stake in BuzzFeed and plans to continue buying shares. He called for cutting more jobs and investing in creator-led audio and video content from conservative voices.

  • "Don't be afraid to challenge your audiences," Ramaswamy wrote. "From Candace Owens to Destiny, Tucker Carlson to Bill Maher, Aaron Rodgers to Charles Barkley, no talent should be off-limits to platform, hire, or acqui-hire."
  • Ramaswamy also shared a list of stories where he believed BuzzFeed lied to its audience and requested the company release a statement apologizing for its past.
  • Ramaswamy wrote that he "identified three high-profile directors, with strong track business records in new media, who have expressed interest in joining your board to help navigate this strategic pivot." But he did not disclose their names.

The other side: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti responded to Ramaswamy via email and requested a time to chat. In that email, he critiqued Ramaswamy's depiction of the company.

  • "Based on your letter, you have some fundamental misunderstandings about the drivers of our business, the values of our audience, and the mission of the company," Peretti wrote. "I'm very skeptical it makes business sense to turn BuzzFeed into a creator platform for inflammatory political pundits. And we're definitely not going to issue an apology for our Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism."
  • "That said, I welcome outside perspectives from shareholders and am open to hearing more from you. I'd also love the opportunity to better explain the strategy that we've outlined on our recent earnings calls, and why we're so confident it will create the most value," Peretti wrote.

What's next: Ramaswamy ended his letter by requesting the board add his three proposed directors by July 15.

Go deeper