📉 Can BuzzFeed rebound? - The Hustle
The Hustle

📉 Can BuzzFeed rebound?

The ongoing cream cheese shortage is nerve-racking. Unfortunately — and surprisingly — an October cyberattack on America’s largest cheese manufacturer, Schreiber Foods, contributed to the crisis, with cream cheese output dropping 6.9% that month.

Today’s rundown:

  • BuzzFeed: $BZFD stock is down 39% in one week, but it’s not all bad news.
  • US shopping malls: They’ve lost ⅓ of their value in the last 4 years, with many facing extinction.
  • By the numbers: Cheese cyberattacks, mountain treasure, and more.
  • Around the web: Odd Christmas tree toppers, Google’s top searches, and more wild internet things.

Let’s do it.

The big idea

BuzzFeed has crashed as a public company — but there’s a silver lining

BuzzFeed had a tough week.

The media company — originally built on listicles and surveys — went public last Monday. Per CNBC, the stock is already down 39% and sits at a market cap of $808m.

The true value of digital media firms…

… has been hidden for years. As private companies, the most well-known brands of the 2010s were able to raise money at eye-popping valuations:

  • Vox Media was valued as high as $1B
  • Vice Media hit $5.7B
  • BuzzFeed’s top valuation was $1.7B

These terms were set by a few big-name investors, though. And there is no guarantee that public investors will agree.

With markets red-hot in 2021…

… a number of media names tried to cash in by using special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Also called “blank check companies,” SPACs are a less onerous path to public markets vs. a traditional IPO.

Vice, Vox, Group Nine, Bustle Digital Group, and BuzzFeed all tested the SPAC waters.

Only BuzzFeed has pulled it off.

Now, it’s an industry bellwether

Even with its stock down hard, it has given other media firms a clear indication of their market values. Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg tells CNBC the number he’s looking for is if BuzzFeed can trade at a 4x revenue multiple (it’s currently at ~2.5x).

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed has stock to potentially make acquisitions. In recent years, consolidation has been standard in digital media:

  • Vox acquired New York Magazine in 2019
  • Vice acquired Refinery29 in 2019
  • Group Nine acquired PopSugar in 2019
  • Bustle Media Group has acquired Gawker, Mic, Nylon, The Outline, and Flavorpill
  • BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost in 2020 and Complex Networks as part of its SPAC deal

If BuzzFeed turns around, the headline will write itself: “10 reasons BuzzFeed is back. You won’t believe No. 5.”


Wrist business: Rolex announced sales are up 45% YoY and up 67% in the US compared to pre-pandemic. #ecommerce-retail

Token overload: BBC News reported clubs across Europe’s 5 major football leagues have raked in $350m selling digital tokens to fans. #emerging-tech

Car theft, evolved: Volvo Cars announced it experienced a security breach that led to theft of R&D data. #privacy

Big raise: Paradigm, a crypto derivatives firm, raised $35m at a $400m valuation. #fintech-crypto

Farewell, old friend: Amazon announced it is shutting down its website ranking service Alexa.com after 25 years. #big-tech

MFM: Shaan and Sam explain how one Chrome extension is making $44m per year. #mfm

Twitter thread: The Hustle‘s Rob Litterst explains how The Economist evolved its product for a digital world. #hustle-picks


(Source: Getty Images/fanjianhua)

Malls have long been losing steam, but it’s worse than we thought

Shopping malls were once the go-to place for American teenagers to cause trouble hang with friends.

While mall traffic has been declining for years, recent valuations paint an ominous picture for the future. In the last 4 years, American malls have lost ⅓ of their value, per The Real Deal.

One reason is department store closures

Department stores often take on the role of “anchor properties,” or the largest, most prominent stores at a shopping mall.

JCPenney and Macy’s, 2 of the most common anchor tenants, have shuttered hundreds of stores since the start of the pandemic.

While this is a problem on its own, department store closures create 2 big problems for mall owners:

  • Some malls offer co-tenancy clauses, which allow other retailers to get reduced rent if there are 2+ anchor property vacancies.
  • Department store closures lead to less foot traffic for all retailers, which can accelerate other store closures.

This downward spiral affects everyone, even the biggest players. Case in point, 3 of the biggest mall landlords declared bankruptcy during the pandemic.

Not all malls are hurting

Strip malls have seen values pop 13% since the start of the pandemic.

But good luck finding a strip mall with the killer combo of Hot Topic, Claire’s, and Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

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(Source: Getty Images / Jaimie Dee)

By the numbers: Home depot, productivity tracking, mountain treasure, and more

1) More money, more space. In the US, for every additional $1B in online shopping, 1.25m square feet of warehouse space is needed. In 1999, there was 10B square feet of warehouse space. As of 2018, there was 17B.

2) Yikes. The count of big companies using productivity tracking software increased 60% since the start of the pandemic. There’s now a market for mouse-mover gadgets, which make it seem like you’re moving a computer mouse when you’re not.

3) More saving. More doing. More spending. For professional contractors, that is, who account for 45% of Home Depot’s $132B in sales despite making up just 5% of the total Home Depot shopper demographic.

4) In 2013, a mountaineer found $340k worth of precious jewels in a box on Mont Blanc. He gave it to French authorities, who connected it to a 1966 Air India crash, but after years of failing to find the rightful owners, the climber will now get to keep half of the loot.

5) The world’s 2.6k billionaires now hold $7.6T in assets, greater than the annual economic value generated by South America plus Africa. Billionaires also own almost 2x the wealth as the world’s poorest 4B people.


📿 On this day: In 1294, Saint Celestine V resigned as the pope, deciding he’d rather go back to being a hermit. He had served only 5 months.

✏️ Useful: Storyset features free, customizable illustrations that you can use in products, presentations, and on websites. Bonus: So does unDraw.

🎄 Art: Artist Blain Hefner makes unusual toppers for Christmas trees, like this “Die Hard” topper.

🏴‍☠️ That’s cool: Google shared what we searched for most in 2021, including affirmations, sea shanties, “meme stonks,” and how to ask for a raise.

📝 How to: Want to beef up your resume? The CEO of a resume service recommends adding these 5 skills.

🐕 Aww: And now, 2 dogs who are very excited about the world’s smallest fetch.

Pic of the day

Remember the “blue/gold dress” debate? The 2015 viral meme was a defining moment for BuzzFeed as an internet tastemaker. There have been 2.5m responses to the question (it’s def blue btw).

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