BuzzFeed, which made a deal to go public through a SPAC merger in June, listed its shares on Monday, a major milestone for any business, and especially for a media startup known as much for its Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting as its lists. But while the co-founder and CEO Jonas Peretti had touted months earlier its deal with publicly traded shell company 890 5th Avenue Partners (and with it, the acquisition of Complex by BuzzFeeds) as the future of media, Monday’s shift to the public market seemed, to the end of days, more like a warning, at the very least, a reality check. BuzzFeeds stock rose briefly, at one point by over 50%, before falling later in the day, closing at 11% from its starting price. It was, like the New York Times reported, a disappointing public debut underlining how difficult it will be for digital media companies to become the giants they wanted to be.
There were recent indications that the BuzzFeeds SPAC merger was not going exactly as Peretti had described it in June. About 94% of the $ 287.5 million raised by PSPC was withdrawn by investors before the first day of trading, the the Wall Street newspaper reported last week, as BuzzFeed conceded that it expected to withdraw just $ 16 million from the deal. Investor withdrawals which a source familiar with BuzzFeeds’ strategy told the Newspaper were expected and would not affect the company’s plans, coupled with restrictions on first transactions for some existing shareholders, made up only a small fraction of BuzzFeeds shares in play on Monday, meaning even small swings in trading had a disproportionate impact on the share price. Monday’s closing price was worth just over $ 1.13 billion, according to the Times.
However, the CJRs Jon allsop Remarks that BuzzFeed is the first major digital media company to go public. No matter how turbulent the process, rivals seemed to view BuzzFeeds’ public debut as an accomplishment in itself. The mere fact that BuzzFeed is available in public markets is a milestone for the industry, Brian Goldberg, the CEO of Bustle Digital Group, told the Times, adding that many of us believe that with renewed optimism and hopefully better access to capital, we can continue to grow without too much opposition. Goldberg, whose company plans to go public next year, offered the prospect to the Times before stock prices fell, calling the first hour of trading not only a positive surprise, but a ‘spit your coffee’ type surprise. Later Monday, CNBCs Alex sherman called BuzzFeeds’ first hours in the iconic public marketplace of the digital media industries lasted ten years, if not last year. Things were improving. Now they are not.
Peretti, for his part, seemed prepared for a difficult start, recounting the Times on Friday I don’t care how we go public and once we saw we had our way through this market even though the market was cold it was just a way to go public. In a comment to Initiated, Katie Notopolous, a senior tech reporter for BuzzFeed News, also didn’t seem to be concerned about Day 1 volatility. But the outlet reported other frustrations, especially from former staff who wanted to convert their stock options into shares but were unable to do so due to delays and confusion. According to an insider, BuzzFeed asked former employees on December 1 to convert their options through Continental, a third-party transfer agent. BuzzFeeds’ equities administration team reportedly told them to expect the process to take three to five days, but former staff told Insider that moving Continental to a brokerage account could. take a few extra business days, effectively closing them out of trading for now. To add to the stack, Continental operators reportedly pointed out to two ex-BuzzFeeders the deluge of calls they were receiving.
A spokesperson for BuzzFeed said the company is working to get things done, but former employees have questioned whether BuzzFeed has slowed down the process to prevent them from quickly disposing of stocks, Insider reported. One of them even did it publicly. A funny thing about BuzzFeed’s IPO is that they made it virtually impossible for former employees to trade their shares on day one, the Washington posts Molly hensley clancy, former national political reporter for BuzzFeed News, wrote on Twitter. Almost makes you feel like they see you differently from the big, super rich investors, but I know that’s crazy talk.
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