Axel Springer Report Gives Peek at Business Insider Finances

Net Loss of €1.1 million From Oct. 30 Through Dec. 31

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Business Insider was acquired by Axel Springer last year.
Business Insider was acquired by Axel Springer last year. Credit: Business Insider
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Axel Springer's 2015 Annual Report on Thursday shed light on the financial progress of Business Insider, the New York-based digital media site it purchased in October.

From Oct. 30 through Dec. 31, B.I. generated revenue of €9.4 million (about $10.2 million based on average exchange rates for that period) and a net loss of €1.1 million (about $1.2 million), the report said.

According to the report, had B.I. been part of Axel Springer since the beginning of 2015, it would have lost the company €10.8 million (about $12.0 million based on average exchange rates in 2015) in consolidated net income on consolidated revenue of €38.5 million (about $42.8 million).

An accompanying presentation said B.I.'s revenue increased 41% in 2015.

Germany's Axel Springer, which has invested in several U.S.-based digital media companies, including NowThis and Thrillist Media Group, sees B.I. as a great growth opportunity.

"The medium-term planning of Business Insider is based on the assumption that the revenues will grow significantly," Axel Springer said in the report. "This growth shall predominantly be triggered by the further development of the Business Insider brand portfolio (e.g. Tech Insider, Insider), the extension of the fee-based market research offering ('BI Intelligence') and the expansion into new international markets."

B.I. has long been expected to begin licensing more of its content, beyond the company's BI Intelligence service, in an effort to generate additional revenue. It's not clear yet what form that will take, and when it will be implemented.

"In the Paid Models segment, Axel Springer will strive to realize the full potential of its strong brands BILD, WELT, and N24, as well as its international brands such as Business Insider," the company wrote in the report, without giving further details.

The report also revealed that B.I. will create "an additional portal" for Insider, a new property, in the first half of 2016. Insider was introduced last fall solely on distributed platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Ad Age was told recently that Insider will focus on the concept of "Life as an adventure."

As a private company, B.I. did not previously report financial information. In total, Axel Springer paid $442 million for B.I.; according to a Financial Times article, the deal valued B.I. at nine times the company's expected 2015 revenues. B.I., in a story about how the sale came together, wrote that "Axel Springer valued Business Insider at 6X its forward revenue projection."

B.I. is still squarely in investment mode, and, according to president Julie Hansen, has in the past forsaken profit in pursuit of growth. "If we weren't funding this investment and this growth, we would have no problem being profitable this year," Ms. Hansen said in April 2015.

As evidence of its upward trajectory, the company has a new traffic milestone to celebrate. In February, according to internal data from Google Analytics, B.I. hit 100 million unique visitors across its U.S. site, its international editions, and Tech Insider, the property it launched in July 2015.