German media giant Axel Springer is acquiring a controlling stake in media startup Business Insider for $343 million, which values the New York-based company at about $450 million. You can read more about the background of the deal and some analysis about what it means for both companies, or you can just read some some quick facts about the acquisition.
In addition to the financial terms of the deal and the impact it is likely to have on Business Insider as a company, I was interested in co-founder Henry Blodget’s thoughts about the sale — why he decided to sell, what it says about the editorial model that the site was built on, etc. So I did a short interview via Twitter. Here’s the exchange, edited for clarity:
Ingram: Henry, I wanted to get your thoughts about the journey you’ve been on for the past eight years, why you decided to sell now, why to Axel Springer, what your plans are for the future, that kind of thing.
Blodget: On Axel, we have gotten to know them well over the past year and have been very impressed. They have deep journalistic DNA, and they have enthusiastically and successfully embraced digital. They also run acquired companies as stand-alones rather than integrating them. That was attractive. Lastly, we think they can help us do what we want to do over the next decade. They’re smart, aggressive, and forward-looking.
Ingram: Why now? Was it either sell or do another round of funding soon? Or they made an offer and it was too good to refuse? And do you feel a personal sense of vindication that this validates the model you have pursued from the beginning?
Blodget: On feeling vindicated… no. We got to where we are now by experimenting and trying new things, and a lot of those experiments didn’t work. One thing Jeff Bezos has said that resonated with our experience is that if you want to innovate you have to be willing to be misunderstood for a long time. And I think we often were. But we also told plenty of clunker stories, made lots of mistakes, and tried bad ideas, especially in the early days, so I don’t blame folks for snickering. Happily, that helped us learn.
As for where Business Insider goes from here, Blodget said on the Axel Springer conference call that the company plans to expand its new site Tech Insider, as well as its “distributed content” unit, called simply Insider. And both companies said that they want to ramp up the subscription research business that Business Insider has been building, which is called BI Intelligence. The site is also launching a German version, and wants to expand into other countries as well.