Vivek Ramaswamy can’t even dunk on Buzzfeed right

Fine, Vivek Ramaswamy, you wanted my attention and now you have it. Before now, I knew you primarily as the guy who lied so hysterically my hometown police department had to come out and explain that you’d been parked illegally when you were accidentally rear-ended by a lady who was not very good at backing up.

In your quest to unseat Elon Musk as the thirstiest motherfucker alive, you have bought 8 percent of Buzzfeed and sent Jonah Peretti a little nastygram. I am not going to bother with the letter on its merits because you know and I know and the police department of Grinnell, Iowa knows that your word is worth nothing.

There is exactly one thing that is relevant here, and it is that Peretti has founder control. As of December 31, 2023, Jonah Peretti (and affiliates) held 96 percent of the Class B stock, which has 50 times voting rights of your cheap little Class A stock. That’s 64 percent of the votes in any proxy contest, Vivek. I don’t pretend to be good at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s a majority.

What are you actually doing, Vivek?

For the benefit of everyone else reading this: typically, when an activist investor buys into the stock, there’s a laundry list of changes they want done. Usually this involves board seats, structural changes at the company, the ouster of the CEO, things of this nature. If the company does not feel like negotiating with the investor in question, there is then a proxy battle, where the activists attempt to win over enough other shareholders to get their changes implemented.

In this case, the possibility of a proxy battle literally does not matter because you cannot outvote Peretti. So what are you actually doing, Vivek?

Possibility A: You’re going to start selling. News of your buy-in sent the shares up! You bought in at an average price of $1.80 a share, and the shares closed today at $3.00, which is a 66 percent profit in a very short period of time. Lock that shit in, let someone else hold the bag, and have a martini somewhere.

Possibility B: This is how you’re going to do PR now. Let’s be honest, public relations professionals are much less useful than they used to be, right, Vivek? Reporters are wildly outnumbered by flacks, and as a result, it’s hard for any individual PR person to cut through the noise. (My inbox is a disaster zone, Vivek.)

Really piss on your enemies’ graves, right, babe?

But one thing anyone with half a brain knows is that the entire media industry reads media stories. You are creating a media story! It doesn’t matter that we all know pivoting to video is a very bad idea because most media reporters can’t break objectivity keyfabe to point out that you understand literally nothing about our industry.

You’ve picked Buzzfeed because the shares are cheap, and because you have a grudge against a historically liberal outlet. It doesn’t matter that Buzzfeed News no longer exists — you’re still mad that it famously published the Steele dossier and you want to replace a once-respected, Pulitzer-winning brand with a half-assed “creators” plan starring Tucker Carlson and Aaron Rodgers. Really piss on your enemies’ graves, right, babe?

You may be wondering why I seem so openly contemptuous of this plan, and I can tell you right now it’s because you’re not thinking big enough. You know who cares about Buzzfeed? Reporters and exactly no one else. If you wanted to play the real game, you’d have gone after Facebook. 

As Rupert Murdoch’s entire career demonstrates, what actually matters in news is distribution. You don’t come at Buzzfeed all “hey release a statement apologizing for the work of your now-dead newsroom” because oh my God, who gives a shit. You come at Facebook and say, “Hey you aren’t adequately distributing right-wing voices and it’s cutting into your profit margins, and your dumb adventures in the metaverse and AI are distractions from profitability. Also, the name Meta is stupid and you should just go back to calling it Facebook.” You know what’s fun about this tactic, Vivek? It fucking works. Conservatives have come at Mark Zuckerberg without chunks of shares and scared him into doing what they want. Imagine what you could do to Zuck with ownership! 

Of course, to annoy Mark Zuckerberg instead of Peretti, you’d need to be able to move size

Facebook is a lot less vulnerable than Buzzfeed, which is publicly circling the drain. But who gives a shit? Your traction at both places is zero. The point is to have a megaphone, and Facebook is a much bigger, more important platform. Why go through the lengthy and annoying process of rebranding Buzzfeed, alienating its current audience and potentially not getting another one — ask Musk about how this is going at Twitter, Vivek! — when you can simply publicly badger someone important by virtue of owning a lot of shares.

Of course, to annoy Zuckerberg instead of Peretti, you’d need to be able to move size, and I think that’s the actual issue here. By aiming so low — I mean if you’re going to go after a media outlet, The New York Times would get you a hell of a lot farther! It’s a much more important target of right-wing vitriol! — you’ve exposed that you aren’t really a player. When you aim to bully the weak, you tell the rest of us that you can’t take on the strong.

Best of luck with your Buzzfeed crusade, Vivek. Maybe it’ll work out better for you than parking in a no-parking zone.

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