BuzzFeed Is Laying Groundwork For Major Expansion in Los Angeles


BuzzFeed is eyeing a big expansion in Los Angeles.

The rising digital media star is in discussions to lease a century-old former Ford auto factory on the southeastern edge of Los Angeles’ downtown, according to people familiar with the talks.

The 250,000-square-foot potential lease suggests large West Coast ambitions for the company, which is hot off a $200 million investment from NBCUniversal that valued it at around $1.5 billion. BuzzFeed is considering multiple options in addition to the former Ford factory, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Under the deal being discussed, BuzzFeed would lease the entire five-story building, which is being redeveloped as an office building by Shorenstein Properties. The building, which once was used for assembling Model Ts and later was used as a toy factory, is roughly as large as BuzzFeed’s Manhattan headquarters. That amount of space typically holds 1,500 to 2,500 employees laid out as standard office space.

A fast-growing digital media upstart, BuzzFeed has made solid inroads with the 18- to 34-year-old demographic that advertisers frequently target. Through its combination of news, lists, quizzes and advertiser-sponsored content, BuzzFeed drew in 82.4 million unique visitors in July, according to comScore Inc. The company employs more than 1,000 people worldwide and said it took in over $100 million in revenue in 2014.

A large chunk of the company’s current Los Angeles operation is made up of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, a division it has invested heavily in during the past year. It currently employs about 230 people at its Hollywood studio space to create an average of 70-75 short video clips per week.

When the NBCUniversal investment was announced earlier this month, the companies said they would explore a variety of strategic partnerships including collaborating on television content, movies, the Olympics, and joint partnerships with brands and ad agencies.

Should the real-estate deal be completed, it would make BuzzFeed among the largest tech startups in Los Angeles by office-space footprint. At 250,000 square feet, the company would have more space in the city than Amazon or Snapchat, and a similar level to Google, according to real estate services firm JLL.

The company isn’t the only one expanding in Los Angeles right now. Earlier this month, Netflix announced a 200,000-square-foot lease at a new building in Hollywood.