Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Buzz Media Swaps Out CEO, Looks for More Money

Buzz Media, a pop culture Web publisher with dozens of  sites, has a new CEO: President Stephen Hansen has taken the top spot, replacing Tyler Goldman, who moves up to executive chairman after six years.

The Los Angeles-based company, which has raised a reported $31 million so far — though industry sources say the real number may be more than double that — also expects to have a new slug of money coming in.

In a memo announcing Hansen’s new role last week, Goldman also told his staff that the company would be getting “additional investment from our shareholders,” which include Redpoint Ventures and Focus Ventures.

In an interview, Goldman, pictured at right,* says that the funding round should close later this week, but wouldn’t disclose other details. He said the company had always planned on elevating Hansen, a former GeoCities and Yahoo veteran who came to Buzz Media from TrueCar this summer.

There’s industry chatter that Buzz Media missed sales targets this fall. While Goldman didn’t address that directly, he allowed that “anytime you get to the scale we’re at, there’s definitely a different set of operational issues.”

Goldman says that the company, which operates and represents entertainment and music sites like the Superficial and Brooklyn Vegan, has more than 30 million unique vistors; he says it is on track to do $50 million in sales this year.

Earlier this year, Buzz Media bought Spin Magazine and turned the music monthly into an all-digital publication.

Here’s Goldman’s memo, which he sent out to his staff last Thursday:

Today, the Board of Directors and I have asked President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Hansen to serve as Chief Executive Officer of Buzzmedia. I will assume the role of Executive Chairman of Buzz effective immediately.

As Executive Chairman, I will continue to provide strategic support for Buzz as we all work together to transform our company into the clear market leader in the Pop Culture category. The board and I understand that we have a responsibility to our shareholders, as well as each and every one of you, and we take that very seriously.

Over the last four months, I’ve worked closely with Steve as he’s performed a “deep dive” into many key areas of the company in order to more fully understand our business. His experience and acumen bring a new dimension to our leadership team. That experience and understanding will be invaluable as we navigate the path to individual and collective success.

In order to take Buzz to the next level, we’ll need to take a comprehensive look at everything we do and how we do it. It’s going to require additional focus, process and effort from all of us. That being said, there is nothing more gratifying than transforming a company into a winning market leader — and I firmly believe we have the talented people to do it. That is our task, and I’m excited to continue to be a part of the effort.

While I’ve enjoyed a fantastic six years at Buzz, it’s clear that real, fundamental change is necessary for us to establish and maintain a position of market leadership. (Don’t forget I’m a shareholder too!) The leadership change we are making today, along with an additional investment from our shareholders, should provide the structure and resources for the productive, profitable journey before us.

I look forward to working with Steve, and all of you, as we embark on this journey together.

*No idea who the guy is on Goldman’s excellent and fanciful LinkedIn profile.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work