BuzzFeed sells pop culture startup Complex for $108.6 million

BuzzFeed announced Wednesday that it is selling Complex — a media startup known for its coverage of streetwear and pop culture — for significantly less than 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 also pays BuzzFeed $5.7 million to cover severance for resort employees that BuzzFeed is laying off, as well as other costs.

BuzzFeed announced it was laying off 16% of its remaining workforce, a move expected to save the company $23 million annually. BuzzFeed does not sell First We Feast, the Complex-associated Internet brand behind the popular chicken wing interview series “Hot Ones.”

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

“The changes we announced today will take our business to an exciting new stage,” he said.

BuzzFeed, whose valuation has taken a steep discount since its 2021 IPO, 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 another $33.8 million from a line of credit.

The sale of Complex, which generated more than $55 million in revenue last year, is somewhat strange for Wall Street: It is being sold at a price higher than the market capitalization of its owner, BuzzFeed, which is approximately $31 million.

BuzzFeed acquired Complex in 2021 for approximately $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 experience platform for Convergence Culture.”