Ask BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti about his influences, and his answer sounds like, well, a BuzzFeed post—one titled “The Three Historical References That Explain BuzzFeed Will Make You Say WTF.” Peretti first points to a company that started more than 100 years ago, Paramount Pictures, which owned a film production studio, its own cast of talent, and its own distribution channel in the form of theaters. “That allowed them to adapt and change as the market changed,” says Peretti.
Peretti’s second fascination is with CNN—how founder Ted Turner ran a 24-hour news operation at a fraction of the cost of what the networks spent, due in part to prescient use of satellite and cable technology
And then there’s Jay Z. In the early 1990s, Peretti, who grew up in Oakland, California, attended public school where, he says, “The only music was black music.” The lyrics were full of boasts—selling more albums, earning more money, amassing more bling. Later in life when Peretti, now 42, made friends with people who loved indie rock bands, he noticed “this weird thing where it’s like, the band that they love, they go to all their shows, but as soon as they have a record deal, ‘I don’t like them anymore.’ ” There was a similar attitude among bloggers, he says, who had a “deeply tortured relationship with popularity. The mainstream media is somehow evil,