Conservative German Publishing Powerhouse Axel-Springer Buys Politico

Politico has been sold for $1 Billion to Axel-Springer, the German publisher of Bild – the Sun-like German tabloid – and Die Welt, among other titles. The firm had a reputation during the twentieth-century Cold War as staunchly anti-communist and pro-American editorially. To this day the titles maintains a centre-right editorial line… 

Only 15-years old, Politico has established an authoritative reputation for reporting politics seriously, originally with hacks spun out of the Washington Post, it expanded from DC to Brussels and London with more than 500 journalists. Politico generates significant revenues from specialist business-to-business subscriptions and advertising on its flagship “Playbook” morning emails.

Axel-Springer have been joint venture partners with Politico since 2014 when they launched Politico Europe. The Brussels-based division has been profitable since 2019 according to Politico sources. The sale will encourage prospective investors in Buzzfeed’s SPAC plan, though Buzzfeed is a more troubled venture despite having absorbed the Huffington Post. The market for profitable digital media ventures is strong…

mdi-timer 26 August 2021 @ 15:43 26 Aug 2021 @ 15:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Buzzfeed UK Saw Revenue Fall 16%, Losses of £4.2 Million

Buzzfeed UK’s 2020 results are out today; the group’s turnover was £18.9 million for the year, a decrease of 16% from £22.4 million in 2019. They blame “continued economic and political uncertainty” for the losses. They claim operating losses were reduced from £7.4 million in 2019 to £2.9 million in 2020 after the divestment of international entities part way through the year. Mean average compensation for the 194 remaining staff fell from £76,673 to £66,238. They also fired more journalists and got out of the serious news business.

Operating losses may have been reported as reduced to £2.9 million, though the stated total comprehensive loss for the year is reported as £4,193,125. By Guido’s calculations Buzzfeed Uk has burnt through some £24 million of investor’s cash in the 8 years it has graced our shores. Guido has said it before and he will say it again, at what point – having never made a profit in the UK – does the parent BuzzHuff US company decide to get out of the vanity publishing business?

See also: Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Make Money

mdi-timer 12 April 2021 @ 15:20 12 Apr 2021 @ 15:20 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Merged BuzzHuff Said To Be Closing UK News Desk

Last month the left-leaning news site Huffington Post was taken over by Buzzfeed, another woke, money losing news website. It has immediately gone about cutting staff and closing divisions worldwide. Guido is told that the London news desk is to close and the operation is to be slimmed down to focus on politics, entertainment and lifestyle. Job losses have not yet been officially announced…

Between them the two left-leaning news sites famous for listicles and side-boob stories have lost investors over a billion dollars since launching. The trash-traffic site’s CEO, Jonah Peretti, is determined to keep in the expensive business of political reporting, despite stiff opposition on both sides of the Atlantic from Politico as well as the traditional news brands of broadcasters and newspapers. Good luck, you’ll need it…

mdi-timer 11 March 2021 @ 16:27 11 Mar 2021 @ 16:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Losses Mount, Average Pay Rises at Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed’s accounts for last year were filed on Friday. In a listicle-style summary, here are the main points;

  • Buzzfeed sold off the German operation.
  • Buzzfeed shut the Spanish operation having failed to find a buyer.
  • Turnover was up 4% to £22.4 million
  • Losses were £7.93 million which is down some 10%
  • The UK-only part of the business turned over £4.5 million
  • The total compensation costs of £16,638,200 divided by the total number of group employees (217) gives an average compensation package of £76,673 each.

Despite the mounting losses and the widespread redundancies, the latter average pay figure has gone up! All the problems outlined previously (see Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Make Money) have got worse with the collapse of online consumer advertising rates. The rolled-up losses for Buzzfeed in the UK are now circa £20 million: at what point does the US HQ decide – having never made a profit in the UK – they want out of vanity publishing?

mdi-timer 26 October 2020 @ 10:14 26 Oct 2020 @ 10:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Advertising Buzz for Woke News Wore Off, Food for Millennials Now Brings in Dough

There is little point listing reasons why BuzzFeed UK failed, it certainly wasn’t anything to do with the team that produced the content nor even that Facebook algo change, though that won’t have helped. It was quite simply that the business model was doomed. BuzzFeed has a successful business pitched at under 30s who want to read non-serious viral content. Advertisers are happy to pay for that. They won’t pay much however because the social media platforms also have a lot of raw viral content. Less curated, less explained, less analysed for sure, less costly too. Consumer advertisers don’t really care that much.

So setting up a “woke” hard news operation was a strategic error for the BuzzFeed brand. Blue chip advertisers that want to reach political news junkies, who are more likely to be decision makers, want their adverts to be adjacent to thought leaders or influencers of political leaders. So those types of advertisers like the broadsheets, specialist political magazines and websites like the Spectator, New Statesman, Politico and, frankly, Guido. Consumer advertising that you see on more generalist publications is in a lot of trouble, it is of low value.

“Go woke, go broke” is too simplistic an analysis. BuzzFeed’s new brand “Tasty” is producing baking videos which are bringing in a lot of dough. Setting up Tasty, a food focused channel for millennials made much more sense and has generated tens of millions of dollars in new revenue. It is the reason why BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti moved into a $5 million mansion in the LA hills last year:

If however you just have general interest content, with general interest readers, you are going to suffer a lot from a general downturn in advertising. Membership plans might work if you have readers who identify strongly with your brand. They’re really just voluntary subscriptions and paying subscribers are a goldmine. BuzzFeed will not be the last general interest news media brand to fail.

mdi-timer 14 May 2020 @ 13:30 14 May 2020 @ 13:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
5% to 25% Pay Cuts at Buzzfeed

Struggling Buzzfeed‘s CEO, Jonah Peretti, has emailed staff a memo telling them that there will be salary cuts at BuzzFeed and blaming the corona virus. The listicle loving digital-media company’s staffers will see their pay reduced between 5% to 25% on a progresive scale, of course. “I understand this will be a real hardship for everyone, but our goal is to make it possible for all of us to get through this,” Peretti wrote in the memo telling employees he will “not be taking a salary until we are on the other side of this crisis.” Go woke, go broke…

mdi-timer 30 March 2020 @ 16:48 30 Mar 2020 @ 16:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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