Off the Cuff

BuzzFeed’s President Tries To Resist Looking at His Email

Off the Cuff

How does BuzzFeed President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Steinberg get his buzz?

Coffee. Lots of it — he says six cups a day.

But Steinberg also likes to nap. Talk about a balancing act.

BuzzFeed is one of the world's leading curators of the social web — it deploys editors and creates algorithms to find the next viral sensation. Now, the company is looking to create strategies that will inspire people to share advertising campaigns the way they share silly cat photos.

To do that, Steinberg rolls up his sleeves and does very un-COO-like things like writing his own memos and even creating his own PowerPoint decks.

"I found that a closeness to actually creating work product is what lets me be successful," Steinberg told "Off the Cuff," a new series that will feature top leaders in candid interviews about life beyond the corner office. "You have to write. You have to create in order to refine your own thoughts" he said.

BuzzFeed is creating an awful lot these days. It collaborated with top companies such as General Electric, Disney, and Schick on more than 100 social advertising campaigns last year. Steinberg expects to double or triple that business by the end of this year.

BuzzFeed has also made major investments in staff — including hiring Politico's Ben Smith as editor-in-chief — to produce original reporting and cover breaking news. Earlier this year, the company attracted $15.5 million in financing, upping the stakes for a website that has largely built its reputation on chuckle-worthy Internet phenomena. There's now a lot of pressure on Steinberg to leverage the site's 25 million monthly unique visitors to deliver on that investment and start turning a profit.

Steinberg's position at BuzzFeed affords him the opportunity to build out an innovative product, and that's something he cherishes. He's an alum of Google's transformative AdWords unit and founder of iBuilding, a commercial real estate software company. For him, the idea of wealth is very much tied to his identity as an entrepreneur.

"If you're really an entrepreneur, wealth is really the idea of being able to start your next thing and be able to fund it yourself and come up with it yourself and have that kind of high-risk period without having to involve other people."

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Despite Steinberg's busy schedule, he tries to keep his professional life from overshadowing his personal life. He tries to interact with his kids first thing in the morning — before checking in with work. Although he admits, that's not always the case.

"In my email there will inevitably be some hassle, and that will be what's on my mind before I get to the kids," he said.

But when it comes to music, Steinberg's kids always come first.

"The most-played song on my iPhone is Bruno Mars' "Marry You" because that is a song that my kids are obsessed with. That, and Katy Perry," said Steinberg.

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