Buzzfeed initially started as an 'Internet popularity contest' site in 2005. Jonah Peretti created the site in the aftermath of an email exchange thread between himself and Nike going viral globally. At the time, Peretti was working as the R&D Director of Eyebeam - another site which was run by his now Co-Founder, John Johnson.
Jonah Peretti wanted to turn what they had learned about manufacturing virality in online media into a business, and soon enough, he convinced his boss Johnson to set up Buzzfeed together. While originally known for its mix of internet memes and lists, the site took off after it was the first to break the news about John McCain endorsing Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican Primary.
The site continued to grow afterward, raising over $35 million in funding from investors the next year. They raised another $50 million in August 2014 from Andreessen Horowitz, more than doubling its previous rounds of funding.