German publisher Axel Springer acquires Business Insider in a whopping $442 million deal, accelerating its push into English-language content.
Axel Springer is a Berlin-based publisher best known as the owner of newspapers Die Welt and Bild, already owned 9 percent of the company, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who had previously put his own money into the company, will leave it in there. When factoring out the cash still on the books, the value comes down to $390 million. Springer will end up writing a check for $343 million when the deal closes; it says Business Insider has 76 million readers and 325 employees worldwide.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE: “With the acquisition of Business Insider, we continue with our strategy to expand Axel Springer’s digital reach and, as previously announced, invest in digital journalism companies in English-speaking regions of the world. Business Insider has set new standards in digital business journalism globally.
However you count it, the deal sets a new mark for native digital publisher sales, previously held by the Huffington Post, which AOL acquired for $315 million in 2011.
Co-founded by Henry Blodget, a freelance writer and consultant in 2007, along with Kevin Ryan, an Internet entrepreneur who’s also invested in Gilt Groupe and MongoDB.
Henry Blodget, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider: “We have tremendous respect for Axel Springer’s commitment to independent journalism and its global vision for the future. It is a pleasure and privilege to join forces with such a smart, forward-thinking team. We look forward to working together to build a major global news organization for the digital century.”
In July, Axel Springer missed its chance to buy the Financial Times. Business Insider shares very little in common with the FT, other than they both deal with financial topics: While the FT has built out its own digital operations in recent years, it’s a subscription-based business whose stock-in-trade is sober, restrained reporting.
Business Insider is a fast-twitch publisher, pitched at readers who’ve grown up on the Web and based on a free, ad-supported business model. While the site was famous for its you-bet-you’ll-keep-clicking headlines and slideshows, it also did plenty of serious reporting; in the last year it has been on an expansion binge, adding a British outpost, a new tech site and a new gambit that’s supposed to create viral content that lives on platforms like Facebook.