Axel Springer: from Silicon Valley to Berlin

Axel Springer AG, one of the largest multimedia companies in Europe, with over 230 newspapers and magazines, more than 80 online offerings - among them French property portal and Belgium's - as well as holdings in television and radio stations, has announced its extended presence in Silicon Valley with new personnel.

Kai Diekmann, BILD editor-and-chief and publisher of the BILD Group, and Peter Würtenberger, as Chief Marketing Officer responsible for the central marketing division Axel Springer Media Impact, initially traveled to Silicon Valley in September 2012 together with Idealo founder Martin Sinner, for a digital research project. The purpose of their stay was to network with companies and universities in the area and to develop new entrepreneurial ideas for digital growth.

Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive Officer of Axel Springer AG, announced that the company is establishing a continual presence in Silicon Valley. “What began as an experiment limited in time and personnel with only three employees will now become a regular visiting program. The personal contact to Silicon Valley and the proximity to developments for future digital businesses in the past months proved very valuable for Axel Springer. We now want to build on this and provide further employees with the unique opportunity and challenge to focus on new developments for a certain period of time.”

Axel Srpinger’s presence in the Silicon Valley has so far spawned the collaboration with Plug and Play Tech Center a leading accelerator and startup investor. They have signed an agreement for the establishment of a new accelerator program for start-up companies in Germany and Europe. The two companies, each hold a 50 per cent stake in the program called “Axel Springer Plug and Play” and based in Berlin. The symbolic signing of the agreement by Peter Würtenberger, Chief Marketing Officer of Axel Springer, and Saeed Amidi, CEO and founder of Plug and Play Tech Center, took place today in Sunnyvale/Silicon Valley in the presence of the German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology and Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler.

“Axel Springer Plug and Play” will focus on providing a targeted support program to German and European founders in the development and implementation of digital business ideas. At the same time, start-up firms in the United States are offered support in their expansion to Germany and Europe. Headed by Ulrich Schmitz, Chief Technology Officer of Axel Springer’s Electronic Media Division, and Saeed Amidi the new accelerator unites the reach and network of Axel Springer with the know-how of an experienced player in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Since its founding in 2006, Plug and Play Tech Center has helped grow over 1200 start-ups. The company has co-invested and partnered with over 100 venture capital firms and has more than 100 global corporate partnerships. In total, start-ups from the American Plug and Play network have raised over one billion US dollars in venture capital so far.

Jens Müffelmann, Head of Axel Springer’s Electronic Media Division: “With ‘Axel Springer Plug and Play’ we aim to support and accelerate innovative digital business ideas from conception through implementation. We are thereby broadening our current investment horizon in the context of our digitization offensive. Our partner Plug and Play Tech Center has excellent contacts and accelerator experience in Silicon Valley as well as in other markets; we now plan to combine this with our network and expertise in Germany and Europe. ‘Axel Springer Plug and Play’ plans to fund some twenty young start-up companies this year.”

“The bridge between Berlin and Silicon Valley provided by ‘Axel Springer Plug and Play’ can impact the success of entrepreneurs in thinking bigger and globally”, Saeed Amidi says. “Berlin can become the center of media and technology start-up entrepreneurs in Europe.”

Axel Springer Plug and Play” is scheduled to launch in May 2013.


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