Andy Wiedlin is BuzzFeed’s Chief Revenue Officer and is responsible for leading BuzzFeed’s revenue growth strategy. Since joining BuzzFeed in 2011, Wiedlin grew the company from zero revenue to profitability with over 500 employees. He has built a talented global sales team who works with world class brands to provide unique social advertising programs. During his tenure, no banner ads were harmed or sold at BuzzFeed.
Before joining BuzzFeed, Andy was the SVP of Sales at Huffington Post where he pioneered the idea of social news, built a successful sales team, developed a market strategy and defined social marketing products. He got his start in the social space in 2008 at MySpace as Vice President of Sales. From 2003 to 2008, Wiedlin worked at Yahoo as Vice President of the Northwest Region. Before diving into online in 1999, Wiedlin spent five years with AT&T International/Bell Labs. He spent 10 years working abroad, primarily in Japan and Australia. Andy has a Master’s Degree in Pacific International Affairs (with a focus on Marketing and Japanese Language) from the University of California, San Diego.
How did you get into the media industry?
Dumb luck. I was living abroad for 10 years, and when I moved back to California, the Internet was taking off. My first job was at Blue Mountain Arts, which got sold for $850MM+. Then the bubble burst and recession set in.
What drew you to BuzzFeed from HuffPo?
I've always been a news junkie but didn't think digital newspapers were the answer. The ideas of Citizen Journalism and Social Sharing made so much sense. Plus Greg Coleman (President of Criteo) told me to.
You grew the company from zero revenue to profitability with over 500 employees - how did you do that?! What were the initial steps and current tactics?
I remember my interview with Jon & Jonah (Former President & Founder & CEO). It was supposed to be a 30 minute get to know you conversation, and it devolved into a 3 1/2 hour working session (complete with whiteboards and screaming). We were so passionate about social content and disrupting the Banner Industrial Complex. We believed completely, and it made building the organization to do it so much easier.
What are the most important traits of a great chief revenue officer aka salesman?
Hire great people. Have a bias for action. Relentlessly study and understand your client's business. Have an informed POV. Solve a problem. Give great meeting. Don't be a jerk.
Your biggest successes and mistakes as CRO and what did you learn from them?
Most success stems from hiring well. We are building a great client-focused business team that is empowered to make our client's stars and disrupt status quo advertising. We make mistakes when we try and play someone else's game. If we aren't focused on being First, Best or Only, and we offer me-too solutions, we fail.
Rolemodel - business and personal?
My business mentor in Greg Coleman. He is the most talented sales and business leader ever...and hysterical too. Personally, I'm a big Phil Jackson fan; he's coached 11 different championship teams by allowing the players to thrive (and not being a grinder and a screamer).
Favorite travel destination?
I travel every week on business, so my favorite destination is my couch. But Hawaii and Mexico work well too.
What are the most frequented websites on your browser?
I still read HuffPost, and am addicted to BuzzFeed. I probably spend too much time on Fantasy Baseball.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Kale Salad. I'm joking of course (my wife is a vegan, and I am seriously over kale). I'm a highly caffeinated individual, so coffee is essential. Vietnamese food is my go to staple...
What is your favorite recent article on BuzzFeed?
Anything that the Stopera Brothers (Two of BuzzFeed's most popular writers) do is a guaranteed hit: they're the best at pop culture and human neurosis. "26 Reasons why today is going to be the best day ever" is classic stuff.
What's next for BuzzFeed and Andy Wiedlin?
Three years ago we were a handful of people with the belief that the Internet is awesome and Internet advertising blows. We've worked hard with our clients to make fun content that people love and share with their friends. We started with lists, but now we are doing quizzes, infographics, videos, etc. I'm having a blast changing the advertising world for the better.