BuzzFeed Sells Complex, a Pop Culture Start-Up, for $108.6 Million

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BuzzFeed said on Wednesday that it was selling Complex — a media start-up known for its coverage of streetwear and pop culture — at a significant discount from its purchase price.

The buyer is Ntwrk, an e-commerce company backed by LiveNation Entertainment and Main Street Advisors, which is paying $108.6 million for the company. It is also paying BuzzFeed $5.7 million to cover severance expenses of Complex employees whom BuzzFeed is laying off, along with other costs.

BuzzFeed said it was laying off 16 percent of its remaining work force, a move it expects will save the company $23 million annually. BuzzFeed is not selling First We Feast, the internet brand associated with Complex behind the popular “Hot Ones” interview series about hot wings.

Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement that selling Complex was “an important strategic step” for the company.

“The changes we announced today will enable an exciting next stage for our company,” he said.

BuzzFeed, which has suffered a steep discount in its valuation since it went public in 2021, is selling Complex to pay off more than $60 million in debt. BuzzFeed said in a financial filing that it had $150 million in debt due in 2026 and an additional $33.8 million from a line of credit.

The sale of Complex, which generated more than $55 million of revenue last year, is something of an oddity for Wall Street: It is being sold for more than the market capitalization of its owner, BuzzFeed, which is about $31 million.

BuzzFeed acquired Complex in 2021 for about $294 million in cash and stock.

Aaron Levant, who will be Complex’s new chief executive, said in a statement that the deal would create “the definitive global content, commerce and experiential platform of convergence culture.”

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