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Homepage Invasion: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti Wants to Break In and Sell You Stuff

He argued that just showing people links with a cute headline and maybe a synopses, so they’d become curious and come visit “feels a little bit outdated.”


Speaking to a huge crowd at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti shared his plan for world domination, reaching 200 million unique monthly.

Peretti, 41, was born to an Italian-American father and a Jewish mother. His stepmother was African-American.

According to Peretti, BuzzFeed receives 12.5 million visits from Twitter, 60 million from Pinterest, and 349 million from Facebook.

But he argued that just showing people links with a cute headline and maybe a synopses, so they’d become curious and come visit “feels a little bit outdated.”

As he put it: “The numbers are actually really small compared to people who saw our content in the stream.”

Counting sheer impressions, BuzzFeed’s content was seen by 847 million users on Twitter, 6 billion on Pinterest, and 11.3 billion on Facebook.

That’s a lot of eyeballs.

“If you can push the content out to the edges, you can potentially reach a much larger audience, ” Peretti said.

Naturally, you’d have to find ways of pulling you revenue scheme in that direction, too. How do you make money by attracting readers to someone else’s pages?

One possible answer is what old media used to call “service articles.” Peretti wants to make money by charging brands for native ads it designs to look like BuzzFeed stories, and then distributing them for the client. He picks the topics that trend at the moment, matches the brand with it, produces the story and, presto, the perfect Facebook feature, ready to be liked and clicked through.

Then those things get shared, and you start to replicate your income like viruses in a goat’s eye socket.

“BuzzFeed doesn’t make a product, ” Peretti concluded. “We’re a service that keeps getting better at creating content over time.”

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