Vivek Ramaswamy Calls for New Board Members and Cuts at BuzzFeed in Letter to Jonah Peretti

Author: Editors Desk Source: THR (The Hollywood Reporter)
May 28, 2024 at 13:43
Jonah Peretti Press Conference GettyImages 1325267634 H 2024
Jonah Peretti Press Conference GettyImages 1325267634 H 2024

Peretti disagreed with Ramaswamy's assessment of the company, but offered to meet with the activist in an email response.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s plans for BuzzFeed are becoming a bit clearer, with the entrepreneur turned activist investor releasing a lengthy letter outlining what he believes the company should do to turn itself around.

Ramaswamy disclosed a sizable activist stake in BuzzFeed last week. In his letter Monday, Ramaswamy said that he has since upped his stake to 8.37 percent.

In an emailed response to Ramaswamy also sent Monday, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti offered to meet “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.”

In his letter, Ramaswamy called for three new board seats, and to dramatically cut costs.

“Rather than cutting from the top, the company should start from zero and retain only the resources required to create and monetize BuzzFeed’s highest-value content,” he wrote. “This will almost certainly require large-scale headcount reductions, dumping your legacy digitized print business model and divesting assets to repay debt.”

He also said that BuzzFeed should lean into “creator-led” content, citing BuzzFeed’s YouTube series Hot Ones as a success story that should be replicated.

“Go for talents across the political and cultural spectrum. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to challenge your audiences,” he 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.”

He also called on Buzzfeed to repair its brand by apologizing for past media coverage, citing its publication of the Steele Dossier, and stories about Hunter Biden and Kevin Spacey. Instead, Ramaswamy suggested the company issue a statement along the lines of:

“We failed in our obligation to tell you the truth. By both omission and commission, we repeatedly lied on issues of national importance, and so did the rest of the media. We echoed easy, politically convenient narratives in pursuit of clicks. We failed to factcheck. We ceased being intellectually curious. We lost sight of fairness. We condemned half the country instead of seeking to understand their views and report them fairly.”

Peretti, in his response, strenuously disagreed with Ramaswamy’s positions.

“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,” he added, before offering to schedule a meeting.

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