BuzzFeed Raises $19.3 Million, Launches Entertainment Vertical

Hot social website BuzzFeed, which mixes user- and staff-generated links, video, and commentary with sponsored posts from advertisers, today said it had raised $19.3 million in a financing round led by venture capital firm NEA.

Other investors in the financing round included previous investors RRE, Hearst, SoftBank, and Lerer Ventures, as well as new investors Michael and Kass Lazerow, co-founders of Buddy Media.

A spokeswoman also confirmed that it was launching a new vertical focused on entertainment out of Los Angeles starting Monday.

Having raised $15 million from investors only last year, BuzzFeed is clearly set on expansion. Company founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said in a news announcement today that the company sought to become “the next great media company. We are all focused on that big goal and raised this capital to move even faster.”

More specifically, BuzzFeed said it will use the capital for mobile development, geographical and editorial expansion, investing in video, and to work on unspecified new initiatives that will be announced later in the year.

The company saw more than 40 million unique monthly visitors in December according to Google Analytics, with growth driven by social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and mobile (over one-third of all BuzzFeed traffic). BuzzFeed also said content-driven advertising had pushed revenue up more than threefold in 2012 over the previous year. It also grew staff to 180 employees.

A year ago the New York-based company hired Ben Smith, formerly of Politico, as its first editor-in-chief. It has also launched 10 content verticals and added bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. In September, BuzzFeed also hired Jeff Greenspan from Facebook and BBDO as its first chief creative officer to work to create shareable branded content using BuzzFeed technology.

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