Vivek Ramaswamy pushes for board seats at BuzzFeed, says company has lost its way

Vivek Ramaswami, a former 2024 Republican presidential candidate, sent a seven-page letter to BuzzFeed’s board of directors reviewed by Fox Business, urging the struggling media company to add three more directors he vetted and adapt its business model to survive amid ongoing capital outflows.

Since going public in December 2021, BuzzFeed’s market capitalization has plummeted from about $1.5 billion to just under $100 million. BuzzFeed’s shares are up 180% this year, but the recent rally coincided with reports that Ramaswamy had bought shares in the company. He is now the second-largest Class A shareholder with an 8.37% stake.

“The stock market has spoken,” Ramaswamy said. “I own your stock because I believe BuzzFeed can be an even more valuable company than it was when it went public. But it will take a major shift in strategy to get there.”

Still, the company’s stock price is well down from the peak of around $40 a share it reached in 2021.

“Almost 20 years later, BuzzFeed is now a startup with a market cap of around $100 million,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity.”

Ramaswamy said BuzzFeed was once highly praised as a “social internet pioneer,” but now “the social internet model is either dead or dying, and BuzzFeed doesn’t have a viable strategy.”

Vivek Ramaswami, chairman and co-founder of Strive Asset Management and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, US. Vivek Ramaswami, former UN secretary-general and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, US. (Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

He also stressed that BuzzFeed has an opportunity to redefine its purpose by restoring public trust in the media, pointing to the publisher’s past missteps, including the unsubstantiated Steele dossier and reports that President Trump told Michael Cohen to lie about the construction of a building in Moscow (later refuted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s report).

Read Vivek Ramaswamy’s full statement here – App users click here:

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With revenue expected to decline further, Ramaswamy called on BuzzFeed to transform its business model at a time when more companies are relying on fast-growing AI technology. He predicted that if BuzzFeed does not adapt its business model, it will likely face bankruptcy by the end of 2024.

To get back on track, Ramaswamy recommended the company roll out a new strategy in three phases: returning to startup scale, investing in creator-driven audio and video content, and making BuzzFeed a bold and distinctive brand.

Vivek Ramaswami talks with Dana White

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 13: Vivek Ramaswamy and UFC CEO Dana White attend the UFC 300 event at T-Mobile Arena on April 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Ramaswami argued that the only silver lining in all of this is that BuzzFeed’s competitors are “just as bad.”

“Americans are desperately turning to other sources of information, including independently distributed audio and video podcasts,” he said. “In this climate, BuzzFeed has an opportunity to make history and set itself apart from every other major media organization,” Ramaswamy said, encouraging the company to acknowledge to its audience that “we have failed in our obligation to tell the truth.”

To achieve its rebranding and reorganization, Ramaswamy said the company should focus on fostering “true intellectual diversity in both its ranks and its leadership.”

BuzzFeed, Vivek

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 20: A view of the BuzzFeed offices in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2023. BuzzFeed News, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for its reporting on the mass detention of Muslims in China, ()

As an example, he said, “Of over 200 political donations made by BuzzFeed employees since 2010, only two were to the Republican Party. The number doesn’t have to be 50%, but less than 1% is absolutely egregious for a company that claims to value ‘diversity’ in its hiring practices.”

Ramaswami expected partisan opposition from the company because of his candidacy as a Republican presidential candidate, but suggested that “it may be in the company’s best interest to hear from like-minded individuals.” [more than] Ramaswamy also touted his track record as a “serious founder” who has built several multi-billion-dollar startups.

“The three new directors who have expressed an interest in joining your board would be a step in the right direction,” he said.

Ramaswamy suggested that this “strategic shift” would be BuzzFeed’s “best opportunity to rapidly create shareholder value at a time when customers are hungry for what BuzzFeed can offer, without the massive capital demands typically required to fuel vertical growth.”

Ramaswamy said the audience who supported the new mission ” [BuzzFeed] As a shareholder.”

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Ramaswamy ended his letter by urging BuzzFeed’s board to add the three new directors by July 15.

“We look forward to meeting in the coming weeks,” Ramaswami said.