Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, is a big fan of labor unions—as long as they come nowhere near BuzzFeed. According to BuzzFeed reporter Cora Lewis, Peretti told employees this week that “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed,” citing the fact that BuzzFeed is structured more like a tech startup than a traditional media company and his own belief that unionization would negatively affect the salaries of BuzzFeed’s writers and reporters (in whom the company has invested tens of millions of dollars).
Late last month, Recode reported that NBCUniversal is preparing to invest $250 million in BuzzFeed, a play that would value the site at $1.5 billion. This newest round of funding (last year, it was merely $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz) raised a still unanswered question: How is BuzzFeed doing financially? According to internal documents obtained by Gawker, the answer is: Good. The company’s revenue tripled from 2012 to 2013, and reached $46 million in the first half of last year. Its investment in editorial has doubled each year. The documents also prove clearly for the first time that BuzzFeed pays millions of dollars to sites like Facebook to boost its clients’ advertising campaigns.
On April 16, Gawker contacted BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith with evidence that his site had deleted a post criticizing Pepsi, a BuzzFeed advertiser, under pressure from the beverage manufacturer. In response, Smith invited Gawker to interview him and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti at the company’s New York office. A transcript of the interview, which took place on April 17 and concerns BuzzFeed’s ongoing review of deleted content, can be found below. It has been lightly edited for clarity.