Digital publishing giant Axel Springer just bought Business Insider for $343 million. The Berlin-based company acquired Business Insider in an attempt to expand their global outreach efforts. Their latest target? The American market.
It all started in 2012 when Axel Springer teamed up global growth investment firm General Atlantic. General Atlantic CEO Bill E. Ford (who is a constituent on Axel Springer’s supervisory board) advised the company to switch from print-based publications to digital-based publications. The two companies came together to create Axel Springer Digital Classifieds GmbH.
As part of their agreement, Axel Springer retains a 15% ownership interest in Axel Springer Digital Classifieds GmbH. In return for their investment, General Atlantic owns an 8.3% stake in the company. Fortune Magazine now reports that more than 70% of Axel Springer’s cash flow comes from digital enterprises.
One of Axel Springer’s first purchases was a UK-based job listing website called TotalJobs. But in July of 2015, the company made a big move by attempting to purchase the American-based Financial Times for $1 billion. However, the deal ultimately fell through, with Japanese financial firm Nikkei outbidding their offer.
Despite the failed attempt to acquire the Financial Times, Axel Springer still has their eye on at least a half a dozen other U.S. digital media startups, including New York’s very own Thrillist. Their aggressive buying strategy is an effort to dominate English-speaking markets much the same way the company has already dominated German-speaking markets.
Established in 1946, Axel Springer started out as just a single monthly magazine focused on books. Shortly thereafter, other magazines followed, until eventually Axel Springer introduced their daily newspaper, Bild. Bild remains one of Germany’s biggest news outlets to this day, but that doesn’t mean the company wants to stop there. Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner had this to say about their latest acquisition efforts:
“This really is a pivotal point in the changing of the media landscape. New digital media companies are being built, and we definitely want to be a player. With Business Insider we have laid the foundation to achieve that.”
With more and more publications going online, print media is slowly but surely going out of style. Axel Springer is just one of many companies trying to get ahead of the curve.