The German publishing house has purchased online business news site Business Insider, a popular site with the younger, digital generation. The acquisition makes Springer the world's sixth-largest in digital publishing.
Axel Springer (AS) announced has from its Berlin headquarters that it now owns 97 percent of New York-based Business Insider (BI) - a respected online business-focused news website aimed at savvy Millennial readers launched just a few years ago.
AS had already owned 9 percent of BI's shares. It has now paid $343 million (306 million euros) to buy an additional 88 percent. The remaining three percent of BI's shares are in the hands of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought into BI in 2013.
In a press release, the German publishing house said adding BI to its portfolio of online journalism sites would increase its global online readership to about 200 million. As a result of the acquisition, AS now claims a spot among the top six online publishing houses globally, as measured by size of readers.
Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner's strategy is to move the influential media company's publications online
Axel Springer publishing house is moving online
Matthias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, said: "With the acquisition of Business Insider, we're moving ahead with our digital growth strategy and investing, as previously announced, in online journalism businesses in the Anglo-American world... [BI's CEO] Henry Blodget's style of digital storytelling reaches the decision-makers of tomorrow."
Döpner added that Springer would extend BI with additional topic areas, bureau locations and content.
Axel Springer SE is one of the largest publishing houses in Europe. It includes in its portfolio the newspaper Die Welt, the company's intellectual flagship, founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupation authorities, and the tabloid BILD, whose daily readership is around 12 million - the highest-circulation newspaper in Europe. Both publications are generally considered to cater to a more conservative audience.
AS is active in more than 40 countries with a variety of subsidiaries and joint ventures.
Business Insider's interesting co-founders
BI was co-founded in 2007 by former DoubleClick CEO Kevin P. Ryan, co-founder and former CTO of DoubleClick Dwight Merriman, and finance journalist Henry Blodget.
Blodget was head of the Internet research team at Merrill Lynch during the 1990s dot-com bubble - a period in which some of his private emails at Merrill Lynch contrasted strongly with optimistic published public statements about the values of some dot-com stocks. That led the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to charge him with securities fraud. Blodget settled with the SEC, agreeing to a lifetime ban from involvement with the securities industry and payment of a $2 million fine plus a $2 million disgorgement of illegally obtained profits.
Since then, Blodget has bounced back. He became co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Silicon Alley Insider, which was later folded into Business Insider. Blodget will continue to co-lead Business Insider as its CEO and Editor-in-Chief, alongside Chief Operating Officer and President Julie Hansen. According to AS, BI currently has some 325 employees, of which half are journalists.
According to AS' press release, Blodget and Hansen "will remain invested financially in Business Insider through a comprehensive and long-term stock options program".
In addition to its fee-free online Business Insider website, which is known for exclusive reportage on business news, BI's portfolio includes "BI Intelligence", a paywall-protected business news and research portal.
nz / hg (DPA, Reuters, Axel Springer SE website)