After more than quintupling BuzzFeed’s traffic to 200 million unique visitors in less than two years, data czar Dao Nguyen got a promotion. She’s now the company’s first publisher, in charge of spearheading growth. Nguyen helped make BuzzFeed a dominant player in the media landscape by listening to the data–which, for example, revealed that email was the second-most-popular referral source after Facebook, despite a clunky sharing process. That insight prompted Nguyen to make sharing via email easier, and within a week, email shares rose by 100%. She is also a big force behind the new BuzzFeed Distributed, which will produce content that lives on Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. Today, BuzzFeed has $100 million in funding, an $850 million valuation, and a rumored upcoming IPO. “Data provides us with clues,” she says. You have to [look at it] over and over again to be able to understand: Okay, I think this is generally what’s happening.”
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I take my newly potty-trained daughter to the bathroom.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
I kind of feel bad, but I love the BuzzFeed Food Instagram account. They’re really experimenting with a lot of new ways of talking about food and how to make food and how to make food on Instagram. I’m kind of pitching my own company’s stuff, but I really think it’s great.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
I’m thinking about someone in my family. My mom. My mom recently, I guess a few years ago, became a Buddhist nun and she is over 80 years. I think reinventing yourself is something that is really hard to do especially if you’re 75 years old and it takes a lot of courage. That’s inspiring to me. Also I think that Buddhism is–I find it’s a very interesting religion. If I had to pick a religion for myself it would be Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion that is based on the idea of impermanence and I think that it’s a valuable thing to keep in mind in your life.