If you want to own a piece of BuzzFeed, just wait until the first week of December.
The Publisher plan to merge 890 5th Avenue Partners, a blank check company, will be voting on December 2nd, according to a recently released Securities Submission. If investors approve the deal, BuzzFeed could start trading in the public markets as early as December 6th.
The additional days are needed because of a second merger. BuzzFeed, led by its founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, will acquire sports and entertainment publisher Complex Networks under its agreement with 890 5th Avenue Partners. Together, BuzzFeed and Complex are projected to have revenue of $ 521 million this year with pre-tax income of approximately $ 57 million.
At the moment, BuzzFeed, known for its meme-driven listicles, quizzes, and a news division that earned the company its first Pulitzer Prize that year, is still losing money. For the third quarter, the publisher saw sales jump 20 percent to $ 90 million, but lost about $ 3.6 million. Excluding certain items such as taxes, interest, and charges related to the pending transaction, the company said it raised nearly $ 6 million. Most of the revenue gains came from a surge in display advertising a year after the pandemic wiped out the ad business.
Coupled with Complex Networks, BuzzFeed would have had sales of $ 121 million, up 17 percent year over year, meaning it would grow more slowly as a combined company than BuzzFeed as a standalone company. Adding Complex, which is also losing money, will still give BuzzFeed more readers, which would attract more advertisers.
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Peretti described the company’s financial performance as “impressive” and said its third quarter results “underscore the strength of our diversified, cross-platform business model.”
Although Mr. Peretti will retain control of the business after the proposed mergers, he will face new pressures once BuzzFeed goes public. It will have to respond to institutional investors seeking quarterly returns whose expectations conflict with the long-term financial goals by which startups live (and die). In other words, persistent losses and slower growth will only be tolerated for so long.
He may also have to sell some of his shares to one of BuzzFeed’s early supporters, NBCUniversal, if the stock does not reach a certain level according to securities documents. BuzzFeed estimates its merger with the blank check company at around $ 1.5 billion, but investors expect that to rise once it goes public.
Recent digital publishing deals have potentially inflated ratings. The German conglomerate Axel Springer agreed in August Politico for $ 1 billion, or about five times its annual sales. If investors are similarly bullish at BuzzFeed, it would be valued at more than $ 2.5 billion.