- Felicia DellaFortuna, CFO of digital media company Buzzfeed Inc., will depart from the company by the end of November to “pursue a new opportunity,” according to a Thursday release.
- Its EVP of Finance and Treasurer Matt Omer will step in as the next CFO, succeeding DellaFortuna effective Nov. 6, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- The CFO change comes as the digital media company, which went public in 2021, has struggled to bolster its financial standing as the industry faces rising costs. A move to AI-generated content has so far failed to stop free-falling revenue, with Buzzfeed seeing total revenues plunge by 27% year-over-year for its most recent quarter.
Omer joined Buzzfeed in 2019 as its VP of finance and has served as EVP and treasurer since October 2022, according to the company filing. As CFO, he will receive an annual base salary of $380,000 and will be eligible to receive an annual cash bonus equal to 50% of his base. Omer will also receive a sign-on bonus of $160,000, a quarter of which will be paid to him on Dec. 31 and the remaining quarters to be paid on the last day of each following quarter, according to the filing.
An eight-year alum of the New York-based company, DellaFortuna has served as its finance chief since February 2020, according to her LinkedIn profile. DellaFortuna is not entitled to any severance benefits upon departing, according to the company filing. Her departure is not the result of any disagreement with the company, Buzzfeed said.
The CFO swap follows a rocky year for the media company, which has struggled to cut costs and foster profitability since going public via a special purpose acquisition company merger in December 2021.
In April, it shuttered Buzzfeed News as part of a broader 15% workforce reduction, with co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti noting the company could no longer continue to fund Buzzfeed News as a standalone organization, NBC reported. The layoffs — which came as fellow media companies including Yahoo! and Insider also reduced their workforces as part of a widespread downturn in the sector overall — left the company with HuffPost as its sole news brand.
Following the close of the newsroom, Buzzfeed, in another bid to pare down its costs, began seeking a potential buyer for fellow media company Complex Networks, which it acquired for $300 million in 2021 as part of its SPAC merger, according to a July report by Seeking Alpha.
Peretti is looking to sell the network for $150 million, which could help Buzzfeed to potentially pay down its expensive debt load — the media company faces total debt of over $200 million, which could come due as early as December 2024, according to a report by the Information. The firm also recently shut down Catalyst, an audience network originally created by Complex Networks, as it looks to streamline its business, according to a recent report by Adweek.
The shuttering of its award-winning news organization also came several months after Buzzfeed announced it would be focusing more heavily on AI-generated content, partnering with ChatGPT creator OpenAI to create quizzes and other articles, CNN reported in January. Buzzfeed remains “laser-focused” on its bid to boost traffic and engagement with AI-inspired content, Peretti told investors in August during its Q2 2023 earnings call — where Buzzfeed saw revenue continue to plummet, slumping 27% from the same period in 2022 to reach $77.9 million.
Revenue plunged across the company’s three major segments, with advertising revenue slumping 33% year-over-year, content revenue falling by 22% and commerce and other revenues declining by 17%, according to its earnings results. It ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents around $41 million.
Buzzfeed is expected to report third quarter earnings on Nov. 2, with the digital media firm anticipating overall revenues of between $73 million to $78 million for the quarter, according to the company’s Q2 earnings report.
Buzzfeed did not immediately respond to requests for comment.