BuzzFeed has big plans to build out its mobile app. The site has acquired the team behind Hyper IQ, a developer that's already been working on BuzzFeed's iOS app. The plan is to have Hyper IQ's seven-person team grow to around 30, who will largely be working on iOS and Android. BuzzFeed intends to improve how specific verticals are presented within its app — it's particularly interested in improving the experience for its news and video verticals. The team will be working out of BuzzFeed's new Minneapolis engineering office.
"We’re thrilled to be part of BuzzFeed’s plans to build a technology presence in the Twin Cities," Hyper IQ president Phil Wilson says in a statement. "More importantly, like so many technology leaders, BuzzFeed recognizes the wealth of top flight talent in Minnesota and can’t wait to be a destination for all that talent to flourish."
"People don't realize yet how much Buzzfeed is doing."
Unlike Facebook, which has been breaking different pieces of its app out into many smaller apps, BuzzFeed wants these improvements to be complementary pieces of its core app. "I think it's more of an additive thing then a 'let's break up our existing app,'" BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti says in a conversation with The Verge's Nilay Patel. "And part of it is also, people don't realize yet how much Buzzfeed is doing." Peretti says that it's "starting to make a lot of sense for" BuzzFeed to differentiate each vertical as a way to better service new business models and readers, particularly as it expands internationally and increases its focus on video.
Native apps typically provide a better mobile experience than a website because of their enhanced speed, but this focus on native isn't strictly meant to improve the experience for BuzzFeed's readers. Rather, BuzzFeed is just as — if not more — interested in the richer data that native apps can gather about how people are reading, sharing, and interacting with content. "That helps us make better stuff and learn and be engaged with our audience," Peretti says. He also sees native app users as readers who are going to visit and share more often, making it a compelling area for his company to invest in.
That's particularly important today, as media companies try to figure out where readers are going for news as the spread of information moves away from specific home pages and over to social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. That's why BuzzFeed is willing to make such a significant investment on native apps. The site believes that it'll be able to better deliver stories to different niches by creating experiences that are specific to products and platforms. "We're ready to start building some of the cool features that will be more noticeable," Peretti says, explaining that much of its progress so far has been behind-the-scenes, so there's a lot more to come. "We haven't done like a tenth of the stuff we want to do in terms of features."