Long-swirling rumors of an eventual IPO for BuzzFeed gained credence this morning when Axios' Mike Allen reported that the company is planning to go public sometime in 2018.
In doing so, BuzzFeed would become the first digitally native news organization in its weight class (Vox Media, Vice, Gizmodo Media Group, Group Nine Media) to go public.
Allen, who credits his scoop to "industry sources" notes that BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has rebuffed buyout offers before and has planned to take the company public for some time.
One such offer came in 2013, when Disney reportedly made an offer to buy BuzzFeed for $500 million. The deal ultimately disintegrated after Peretti reconsidered his position and opted to run the company on his own, Recode reported.
The history of digital news IPOs is fairly short. Salon Media Group went public in 1999 just before the dot-com bubble burst and was valued at $107 million. Its valuation plunged, and the company was eventually delisted from the NASDAQ in 2002. Other digitally native media companies that have gone public include The Street, WebMD and XO Group (which publishes The Knot).
Like several of its digital media competitors, BuzzFeed has allowed investments from legacy media. In 2015, BuzzFeed scored a $200 million investment from NBCUniversal, which has also invested $200 million in Vox Media.
Peretti hinted at a possible IPO at Recode's Code Conference in 2015, but his remarks were subsequently downplayed by BuzzFeed president Greg Coleman, who said the company didn't "have plans to do anything right now."
A spokesperson from BuzzFeed declined to comment on this story.