Los Angeles Business Journal

Buzzmedia Confirms Layoffs

By Natalie Jarvey Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Sunset Boulevard offices of Buzzmedia might not be buzzing so loudly.

The digital media company, which owns dozens of websites focused primarily on music and celebrity news, announced staff cuts of about 20 percent on Thursday as part of a restructuring.

That means as many as 50 layoffs at the 250-person company, which has offices in Hollywood and New York. However, the company also plans to hire as many as 25 people in at least three departments in the coming months.

Chief Executive Steve Hansen described the layoffs as part of a restructuring of the company to focus less on its advertising network and more on its portfolio of blogs, including celebrity-focused Celebuzz and music-focused Spin.

“The goal that the board gave to me is to really look at the business and try to take steps to help it get from where it’s been over the last five to six years to where it wants to go,” he told the Business Journal. “Buzzmedia has a lot of potential, but we’re slow in achieving that potential even though the market is moving very quickly.”

Moving forward, Buzzmedia will focus on building new technology for its network of web properties and better engaging its audience on those sites, Hansen said. The company will also work to sell more targeted advertising across its sites.

Hansen sent a memo to Buzzmedia staff on Thursday morning announcing the layoffs.

“Make no mistake about it, today will be difficult for all of us but our success is dependent upon greater focus on our audience, evolving our portfolio of brands, all supported by powerful technology and data,” he wrote. “We need to align the organization around those objectives and today is a first step, albeit a very hard one.”

Hansen was promoted from president to chief executive in December to replace Tyler Goldman, who stepped into the role of executive chairman. At the time of Hansen’s promotion, the company said it wants to become a leader in the pop culture space.

Buzzmedia has raised $15 million in venture funding since the first of the year, adding to $31 million in previous investments from Redpoint Ventures, Anthem Venture Partners and Interscope Records.

People affected by the layoffs were notified by midday.

Hansen said the company will look to hire in the product, technology and editorial departments in the coming months.

“It would be nice to have everybody and just keep adding employees,” he said. “We’re trying to streamline those areas where we had frankly more people than we could support.”