BuzzFeed says it will generate more than $100 million in revenue this year. Now the man in charge of bringing in that money is heading out the door.
Chief revenue officer Andy Wiedlin, who joined BuzzFeed four years ago and helped it scale up its native ads strategy, will leave the company at the end of the year. BuzzFeed President Greg Coleman, who joined earlier this summer, announced the move via a company memo, which you can read at the bottom of this post.
Coleman, a longtime digital ad sales veteran, says he’ll take over Wiedlin’s role on an interim basis. Wiedlin isn’t heading directly to a new job, and will park as an
entreprenuer executive-in-residence at BuzzFeed investor Andreessen Horowitz.
Wiedlin’s departure will draw some comparisons with the departure of former BuzzFeed COO Jon Steinberg, who also joined the company in its early days, and who left earlier this year. Steinberg reportedly left in part because BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti turned down a chance to sell the company to Disney.
In this case, Coleman says geography was at least one of the reasons for Wiedlin’s move: Wiedlin has been running sales from his home base in San Francisco, and “he and I were in agreement that his travel to New York was not sustainable for the big year we’re about to have,” Coleman writes.
Whoever gets Wiedlin’s spot will end up with one of the highest-profile, highest-pressure jobs in digital ads. BuzzFeed’s pitch — that it can tap into a huge millennial audience, which willingly shares both its “real” content and its home-grown ads with each other — has garnered a lot of attention from ad buyers.
But like other hot digital properties, BuzzFeed is still most likely to get experimental ad buys from marketers who want to see what the fuss is all about, and bask in a bit of new media halo.
Building that into a truly massive business — one big enough to make good on BuzzFeed’s $850 million valuation — is the next step.
Here’s Coleman’s memo, provided by BuzzFeed’s chief of staff Ashley McCollum:
Today, we are sad to announce that our longtime chief revenue officer Andy Wiedlin will be leaving BuzzFeed at the end of the year. Andy has put his heart and soul into building this business. When Andy consulted with me about this job 3.5 years ago, the challenge he was most excited about was growing revenue for an early stage startup to significant scale. He has been wildly successful: He built and led our incredible sales team and is responsible for breaking through to hundreds of the biggest advertisers in the world, educating them about social and BuzzFeed, all while based in San Francisco.
As we started building our new strategic business initiatives to grow BuzzFeed into a global business, most of which involve sales strategy, I needed more time from Andy. Since I arrived three months ago, he and I have been discussing the sustainability of running this fast growing sales organization from the west coast. When Andy came to me with the recommendation that it was time to pass the torch, he and I were in agreement that his travel to New York was not sustainable for the big year we’re about to have.
I’ve known Andy for twelve years and he is one of the most impressive sales leaders I’ve ever worked with. We worked together at Yahoo during a time of incredibly high growth, I brought him with me to build the business at Huffington Post and as an advisor to BuzzFeed in 2011, I recommended him for the CRO role here.
Andy will stay on with us full-time through the end of the year and will join Andreessen Horowitz as an executive in residence in his home Bay Area. He’ll also stay on with BuzzFeed as an advisor as we work together in transition. In the interim, I’ll be stepping in as player-coach, helping lead the sales team on a day to day basis.
The energy and enthusiasm Andy brings to any organization will be impossible to replicate. We will find a time to celebrate Andy’s great accomplishments before the end of the year. For now, we have to thank Andy for his incredible work and effort leading this company’s staggering revenue growth and for being a phenomenal sales leader for all of us.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.