Vivek Ramaswamy acquires stake in BuzzFeed to implement strategic ‘shift’ in direction

Former GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy has an 8% stake in BuzzFeed and is seeking to effect a “shift” in the media firm’s strategy, the investor said Tuesday in a regulatory filing. Ramaswamy’s involvement raises questions about BuzzFeed’s direction as his firm, Strive Asset Management, has pushed companies to stay out of “woke” politics and opposed the widespread adoption of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.

BuzzFeed shares opened up 55% on the news of Ramaswamy’s stake. Shares pared back gains and were up about 20% as of 10:25 a.m. ET. The stock closed Tuesday at $2.50. CEO Jonah Peretti had previously mentioned that his job was to “set us up with a better future” in an interview with CNBC.

Ramaswamy, who made his fortune through Strive Asset Management and his drug development firm Roivant Sciences, has been a vocal critic of the social justice movement, which he referred to as a “scam” in his book “Woke, Inc.” He has remained close to the Mar-a-Lago circuit after supporting former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. However, it is unlikely that he will be Trump’s vice-presidential pick, as several GOP operatives and donors have expressed deep opposition.

BuzzFeed, once a viral company, has faced challenges due to changing news habits and platform algorithms. The company shut down its Pulitzer Prize-winning news division in 2023, leading to a layoff of 15% of its staff at the time. BuzzFeed’s dependency on social media and search traffic has impacted its bottom line as these platforms have evolved.

Ramaswamy indicated in the filing that he would seek to discuss with BuzzFeed’s management every aspect of the company’s operations, including the possibility of an acquisition by a third party. Buzzfeed did not respond to a request for comment regarding Ramaswamy’s involvement and the potential shift in strategy.

As a minority investor in BuzzFeed, CNBC parent NBCUniversal has a stake in the outcome of Ramaswamy’s efforts to influence the company’s direction. Stay tuned for further developments as this story unfolds.

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