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Updated Jun 17, 2024, 12:38pm EDT
mediaNorth America

Vivek Ramaswamy’s plan for BuzzFeed

Brendan McDermid/File photo/Reuters
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The Scoop

This interview first appeared on Mixed Signals from Semafor Media. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Vivek Ramaswamy says his new investment in BuzzFeed isn’t just a stunt, and suggested that the company’s approaching debt crisis will force CEO and founder Jonah Peretti to accede to his demands.

Earlier this month, the former Republican presidential candidate purchased an 8% stake in BuzzFeed and immediately called for sweeping changes to the millennial digital media company, including turning the company into a platform hosting video shows across the political spectrum, including from Tucker Carlson and Bill Maher, and adding three new members to BuzzFeed’s corporate board.

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Some media observers dismissed the move as a stunt ploy by a Republican political figure known for making noise, pointing out that Peretti controls the company though a dual-class share structure.

But in an interview on Thursday in Semafor’s new podcast Mixed Signals, the former Republican presidential candidate pushed back on the idea that his stake in BuzzFeed was simply an expensive stunt to troll the millennial media company. Ramaswamy argued that the company’s looming debt problem suggested that Peretti likely did not have control of the business for much longer.


“This is a company that has more debt than cash. That debt comes due this December. So anybody who thinks that Jonah Peretti is the person in control of this business because some piece of paper says he has voting rights over the shares is delusional,” Ramaswamy told “Mixed Signals” co-host Ben Smith, who formerly edited BuzzFeed News.

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The dynamic of dual class stock “changes completely when you have debt that comes due that’s deeply underwater from its conversion price, and that comes due at a moment where the company has less cash than debt is losing money on a growing basis,” he said. “I think somebody who has basic intuitions of how those situations play out would maybe rethink the idea that Jonah actually has full control of this company.”

Asked if he would find a way to take BuzzFeed private, the former Republican presidential candidate said there was a “menu of options available” for the digital media company.

“I don’t have all of the information and history and context that the existing management does too,” he said. “And so I’m going to hear that out.”

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“People talk about going private. Are there things to do with the debt? Are there things to do with, you know, other ways of financing or growing or shedding parts of the business? I laid out my current views in the letter.”

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Know More

Ramaswamy’s investment in BuzzFeed has rattled the digital media company, which has been a target of conservatives since its since-shuttered news division (run by Smith, Semafor’s current editor-in-chief) published the Steele Dossier. In a letter to Ramaswamy earlier this week, Peretti said Ramaswamy had “some fundamental misunderstandings” about BuzzFeed’s business, and said that he was “very skeptical it makes business sense to turn BuzzFeed into a creator platform for inflammatory political pundits.”

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