BuzzFeed hires Eric Karp as its first head of licensing

Get ready for more BuzzFeed-branded products.

The company has hired Eric Karp, previously the general manager of licensing at Crayola, as its first head of licensing. Karp will be working with outside partners to develop new products around BuzzFeed brands.

BuzzFeed has already been moving into unusual product areas with things like the Glamspin (a fidget spinner with lip gloss) and the Tasty One Top (an app-connected hot plate). However, Head of BuzzFeed Product Labs Ben Kaufman noted that these products were developed internally, by his team, though usually with help from outside partners.

Hiring Karp should open the door for many other companies to create their own BuzzFeed products, and it could create new revenue opportunities as the online publisher considers going public. At the same time, Kaufman insisted that BuzzFeed will approach licensing in “a thoughtful way,” rather than just slapping its name on any random product.

“We as a company believe that every great media company has a great licensing strategy — a way to protect your brand as you enter the world of licensing,” he said. “There are brand guidelines for all of our flagship brands, but one of the best things about BuzzFeed is that we birth new brands on a regular basis. [Karp will be] involved in the inception of these brands, defining the guidelines and the rules.”

Kaufman also said BuzzFeed will continue to experiment with products on its own. When an idea has some “core” BuzzFeed characteristics — if it’s “easily shareable, something that currently compels people to create content, something that feels unique and new to market” — his team will try to build it themselves.

On the other hand, “if it looks like something a subject matter expert would really good at taking on, we’ll look to partner and license,” he said. “Why reinvent the wheel?”

Karp will also be overseeing BuzzFeed’s existing content licensing partnerships, Kaufman said. And yes, he said there are some licensing deals already in the works, though they haven’t been announced yet.

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