BuzzFeed to become a publicly traded company

NEW YORK — BuzzFeed will become a publicly traded company with an implied value of $1.5 billion through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

The company, founded by Jonah Peretti in 2006 and initially known for listicles and online quizzes, has established itself as a serious contender in the news business, this year winning a Pulitzer for international reporting.

BuzzFeed also said today that it plans to buy Complex Networks from Verizon and Hearst for $300 million, a global youth network that engages with millennials and Gen Z.

A number of companies this year have chosen a non-traditional path to putting their shares on the public market, choosing to skip partnerships with traditional financial institutions, and instead merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

SPACs can cut up to 75% off the time it takes for a company to get its stock trading on an exchange, versus the traditional process of an initial public offering. SPACs can also make it easier to get prospective buyers on board. Companies going the SPAC route often feel more license to highlight projections for big growth they’re expecting in the future, for example. In a traditional IPO, the company is limited to highlighting its past performance, which may not be a great selling point for young startups that typically fail to put up big profits or revenue.

BuzzFeed, based in New York City, is merging with a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners Inc.

Aside from its namesake digital media entertainment platform, the company’s other brands include BuzzFeed News, HuffPost, BuzzFeed Entertainment and Tasty Lifestyle Brands.

BuzzFeed said that the parent company will be known as BuzzFeed Inc. Shares will trade under the ticker symbol “BZFD.” It is not yet known which exchange the stock will trade on.