Deepens Axel Springer’s Expansion into the U.S. Digital Media Marketplace and Its Global Reach with Millennial Audiences
Axel Springer SE, the leading digital publisher in Europe, today announced it intends to acquire a minority interest in New York City-based Thrillist Media Group (TMG), a leading digital media company and lifestyle destination for millennial men. The investment is an important next step in Axel Springer’s strategy to broaden its global reach, increase its English-language offerings and expand its commitment to innovative digital media content. Once completed, this will make Axel Springer the largest outside investor in Thrillist Media Group.
Today’s announcement comes one day after Axel Springer announced its agreement to acquire Business Insider, the leading digital business news service in the U.S. The acquisition of Business Insider will make Axel Springer one of the world’s six largest digital publishers in terms of reach.
Thrillist was founded in 2005 by Ben Lerer, CEO, and Adam Rich, Editor-in-Chief. It reaches 15 million monthly unique visitors to Thrillist.com, and over 80 million a month across its digital, social and mobile platforms, TMG operates the popular lifestyle portal Thrillist along with related daily newsletters and mobile app, with a focus on the sought-after demographic of 18 to 34-year-old men. Thrillist has local editions covering more than 35 cities in the U.S. and Europe. In the last year, Thrillist traffic has seen 100 percent year-over-year growth, with more than 66 percent of traffic coming from mobile.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, said, “The investment in Thrillist is a further step we are taking to expand our global footprint as a digital publisher, especially in English-language markets. Thrillist has become a first choice, particularly among millennial men. We see strong further potential and are looking forward to close cooperation with Ben, Adam and the whole Thrillist team.”
Ben Lerer, Co-Founder and CEO of Thrillist Media Group, commented, “We are very excited about this announcement. Axel Springer’s track record of success and its deep understanding of the digital media landscape make it an ideal partner as well as a huge asset for our media team as we continue to expand our rapidly growing business.”
Axel Springer’s investment will help enable TMG expand into new, targeted content verticals, broaden its video and social resources, aide in the expansion of its experiential events team, continue the development of its proprietary data and technology platform, Pinnacle, and further its newly formed branded content creation division, The CoLab.
The company’s related e-commerce business, JackThreads, is not part of this investment and will in the future be operated as a separate company.
Completion of this transaction is expected in early October.
Axel Springer is the leading digital publisher in Europe and a pioneer in paid subscription offerings. With headquarters in Berlin, the company is active in more than 40 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures and licenses. Axel Springer SE is divided into three operating segments: Paid Models, Marketing Models and Classified Ad Models. In 2014, it achieved an EBITDA of EUR 507.1 million. More than half of Group revenues were generated by digital activities, which amounted to more than 70 percent of Group EBITDA. The company employs nearly 15,000 people worldwide.
Axel Springer increasingly wants to grow with digital journalism offerings in English-language geographies. Over the last several years, Axel Springer has gradually built up a diverse portfolio of U.S. investments and has maintained an office in Silicon Valley since 2014.
On 29 September 2015, Axel Springer announced the acquisition of Business Insider, the leading business news portal in the U.S. Since March 2014, Axel Springer has been the biggest investor in OZY.com, an online magazine for news and culture. Since February 2015, the digital publisher Livingly Media has been fully owned by aufeminin.com, the world's leading women's portal, in which Axel Springer holds a majority interest. Axel Springer is also invested in digital investment funds Lerer Hippeau Ventures and SV Angel since June 2014. Axel Springer also has a majority holding in the shopping platform Retale, which has been active in the U.S. market since 2013 through the Bonial.com Group. Moreover Axel Springer holds stakes in the media start-up A Plus (since March 2015), the news platform Mic.com (since June 2015), the virtual-reality startup Jaunt (since September 2015) and the social-video-news media company NowThis Media (since December 2014). Axel Springer also holds minority interests in the community accommodations marketplace Airbnb (since February 2012), in the photo community Pixlee (since February 2013) and the save-for-later App Pocket (since April 2015). Since April 2015, the company, together with POLITICO U.S., has been responsible for the European edition of POLITICO in Brussels.