Just a few weeks after poaching star political reporter Ben Smith from Politico and scooping CNN at the Repulican Primaries, Buzzfeed announced a big new round of funding to build out their operation. The company is raising a $15.5 million series C from lead by New Enterprise Associates and followed on by Lerer Ventures, Hearst Media, Softbank and RRE Capital.
The funding, first reported by Alexia Tsostis at TechCrunch, also involves a couple of leadership changes. Ken Lerer is stepping into the role of executive chairman and former Huffington Post President Greg Coleman is coming on as an advisor. It seems like BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti is looking to reunite the dream team that helped launch HuffPo and aiming to use the 2012 elections as a springboard for BuzzFeed, much as Obama’s election back in 2008 pushed HuffPo to new heights.
When BuzzFeed poached Ben Smith from Politico back in December, the reaction from the establishment was largely, “What is BuzzFeed?” But in the same way that the Huffington Post was one step ahead of old media in terms of its speed, aggregation and approach to search engine optimization, BuzzFeed hopes to be the next generation of viral news, using a mix of serious reporting and cat slideshows to reach the biggest audience.