Buzz

Can Merch Like This $150 Cooktop Put The Buzz Back In BuzzFeed?



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Photo montage via Tasty

BuzzFeed’s food vertical, Tasty, is selling a new induction cooktop controlled via a smart phone app.

It’s old news that (almost) no one wants to pay for printed news, and that even digital publishers are struggling. We’ve become a nation of cheapskates, afraid to spend a dime on anything that might be fake (unless we know ahead of time that we agree with the website’s politics). And even then, we’re cheapskates.

Diversification is the latest digital watchword. Not even media whizkid BuzzFeed.com is immune.

Incorrectly described as a &quot;fat startup&quot; by the The Spoon&nbsp;(a term that applies to overpriced companies like Uber),&nbsp;BuzzFeed more closely resembles a traditional news outlet like, say, the New&nbsp; York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but without the obligation of creating a daily newspaper. Founded in&nbsp;2006 by&nbsp;Jonah Peretti (who had previously worked at Huffington Post) it began as a purveyor of listicles compiled by algorithms. Five years later, the site hired political blogger Ben Smith as editor-in-chief; he began to expand its news coverage aggressively. The business side, meantime, also began to create content in new vertical channels, particularly food.

BuzzFeed’s Tasty.co&nbsp;website features recipes and videos as well as link to its shop, where you can order meal kits, a cookbook, or an induction cooktop that works through an app. Find a recipe and the app cranks up the cooktop to boil, saut&eacute; or stew&nbsp;your dinner; it can also maintain precise temperatures for sous-vide cooking.

The device, dubbed the OneTop, is currently offered at $149 and will ship later this month. (As it happens, I bought a similar device last month for $50,&nbsp;which&nbsp;included a flimsy stainless steel pot but no&nbsp;smartphone connection). Not surprisingly, there seems to be high demand for Tasty’s high-tech durable goods, but it’s going to take a lot of OneTops to make up the company’s recently reported revenue shortfall. Still, based on a report in The Spoon, there may be interest.

Last year, the company worked with Oster to run a sponsored cooking video that included the Oster grill. Within a day,&nbsp;the Oster grill had completely sold out on Amazon, despite the fact the cooking video didn’t have a link to the Oster grill Amazon page.

BuzzFeed&nbsp;reportedly is on&nbsp;pace to miss its 2017 revenue targets by as much as 20%; this week it said it would cut its staff of&nbsp;770 by about 100 employees — mostly ad sales reps in New York and journalists working&nbsp;out of the London office.

In a memo to the staff, Peretti took pains to describe BuzzFeed’s plans to expand its&nbsp;film projects and other ventures. But the worst news of all, perhaps, is that the company seems to have shelved its plans&nbsp;for an IPO.

Disclosure: One of my sons, Dominic Holden, has worked at BuzzFeed as a political reporter for the past&nbsp;three years. However, we had no contact concerning this post.

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Photo montage via Tasty

BuzzFeed’s food vertical, Tasty, is selling a new induction cooktop controlled via a smart phone app.

It’s old news that (almost) no one wants to pay for printed news, and that even digital publishers are struggling. We’ve become a nation of cheapskates, afraid to spend a dime on anything that might be fake (unless we know ahead of time that we agree with the website’s politics). And even then, we’re cheapskates.

Diversification is the latest digital watchword. Not even media whizkid BuzzFeed.com is immune.

Incorrectly described as a “fat startup” by the The Spoon (a term that applies to overpriced companies like Uber), BuzzFeed more closely resembles a traditional news outlet like, say, the New  York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but without the obligation of creating a daily newspaper. Founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti (who had previously worked at Huffington Post) it began as a purveyor of listicles compiled by algorithms. Five years later, the site hired political blogger Ben Smith as editor-in-chief; he began to expand its news coverage aggressively. The business side, meantime, also began to create content in new vertical channels, particularly food.

BuzzFeed’s Tasty.co website features recipes and videos as well as link to its shop, where you can order meal kits, a cookbook, or an induction cooktop that works through an app. Find a recipe and the app cranks up the cooktop to boil, sauté or stew your dinner; it can also maintain precise temperatures for sous-vide cooking.

The device, dubbed the OneTop, is currently offered at $149 and will ship later this month. (As it happens, I bought a similar device last month for $50, which included a flimsy stainless steel pot but no smartphone connection). Not surprisingly, there seems to be high demand for Tasty’s high-tech durable goods, but it’s going to take a lot of OneTops to make up the company’s recently reported revenue shortfall. Still, based on a report in The Spoon, there may be interest.

Last year, the company worked with Oster to run a sponsored cooking video that included the Oster grill. Within a day, the Oster grill had completely sold out on Amazon, despite the fact the cooking video didn’t have a link to the Oster grill Amazon page.

BuzzFeed reportedly is on pace to miss its 2017 revenue targets by as much as 20%; this week it said it would cut its staff of 770 by about 100 employees — mostly ad sales reps in New York and journalists working out of the London office.

In a memo to the staff, Peretti took pains to describe BuzzFeed’s plans to expand its film projects and other ventures. But the worst news of all, perhaps, is that the company seems to have shelved its plans for an IPO.

Disclosure: One of my sons, Dominic Holden, has worked at BuzzFeed as a political reporter for the past three years. However, we had no contact concerning this post.

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