BuzzFeed Video Chief Ze Frank Tells Staff They Have It Good

Memo Follows Report That Staffers Were Fired for Breach Of Contract

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Ze Frank at the Streamy Awards.
Ze Frank at the Streamy Awards. Credit: The Bui Brothers/Streamy Awards Photo 1319 via WikiMedia Commons
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Video is a big part of BuzzFeed's development as a multiplatform media empire. Last week, the company's video and film division, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, got some bad press in the form of a Politico article about the exit of two employees that reportedly stemmed from their participation in a non-BuzzFeed web series being produced by America Ferrara.

The employees, producers who also appeared in BuzzFeed videos, were considered in breach of contract "because of a non-compete clause most BuzzFeed Motion Pictures staffers are required to sign," Politico Media reported. (A BuzzFeed representative declined to comment on the departures.)

BuzzFeed's video talent is a key differentiator in an increasingly crowded digital video landscape. And the company is proud of its mostly-millennial video workforce. BFMP talent played a prominent role in the company's NewFront presentation earlier this year, as comedic stars like The Try Guys took the stage to perform and give marketers and agency folks a taste of what they could do for brands.

On Monday, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures President Ze Frank sent out a staff memo, later published on BuzzFeed.com, that explained "why we think our model is a unique and valuable opportunity." The memo did not address the departures, but noted that "there have been a number of conversations recently about what it means to be a BFMP producer."

Mr. Frank, after ticking off the benefits of working for BFMP, said the company expects "real commitment in return." He continued: "Concretely, this means that the work you do while you're on BuzzFeed's staff belongs to BuzzFeed, and that you can't work for other productions without our permission."

He also seemed to discourage the idea of using BuzzFeed as a springboard to bigger, better things.

"We recognize that for many people BFMP will be a stepping-stone in a varied and exciting career, and working here does create an immense amount of exposure," Mr. Frank wrote. "But while you are here we want you to participate earnestly in what we are building. It is unique and special."

BFMP lost a high-profile talent earlier this year when Matt Bellassai, star of the "Whine About It" web series, struck out on his own and signed a contract with talent agency CAA.