September 30, 2015 Last Updated 8:53 am

Business Insider acquisition and Thrillist investment part of Axel Springer ‘digitization strategy’

Morning Brief: Apple updates app for iTunesConnect, adding more push notifications to help developers and publisher stay better informed of changes in the status of their apps and books

There are media reporters today publicly giving the high-five to Henry Blodget for the sale of Business Insider to Axel Springer – and it is a success story in that the media start-up, founded with the help of two DoubleClick veterans (rarely mentioned), has managed to go from start-up to established to cashed out without ever falling back and being forced into a sale.

Henry Blodget

Photo: Business Insider

But while Blodget’s share of the company is said to be between 10 and 15 percent, and though his payout of around $50M or more would be big money for most, it really is small change in the world of finance Blodget once came from (according to the Guardian, Blodget’s payout from the sale will be the equivalent of a couple year’s salary he received when at Morgan Stanley).

What likely began the ball rolling towards a sale was last year’s attempt by AOL to buy BI. AOL is said to have offered $125 million for the digital property but was turned down. If true, one can bet that there were investors whose interest was piqued, and often is enough to get the ball rolling towards a sale in the future.

For Axel Springer, let’s hope they did their due diligence. The German publisher paid $343 million to acquire all but 3 percent of the company (the publisher of Bild already owned 9 percent), so yesterday’s acquisition was for an additional 88 percent of BI and raised the valuation of the company to $442M. From a strictly M&A practices perspective, it doesn’t look like a very good deal for Axel Springer unless they can do some magic and make BI revenue fairly quickly.

So, why did Axel Springer pull the trigger? The answer is right there in the press release, far up front:

The addition of Business Insider’s 76 million unique monthly visitors will increase Axel Springer’s worldwide digital audience by two-thirds to approximately 200 million users, making the company one of the world’s six largest digital publishers in terms of reach.

(Here is the announcement for the Thrillist investment.)

In 2013 the publisher sold the company’s regional newspapers, TV program guides and women’s magazines to FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE and said it was going dedicated to transforming itself into a digital media company.

“By following a stringent digitization strategy, Axel Springer aims at becoming the leading digital media group,” the publisher said in 2013.

And just this morning (US time), company CEO Mathias Doepfner told CNBC has taken a minority stake in the lifestyle website publisher Thrillist Media Group.

“The main reason why we invested in it is the founder, Ben Lerer. He has convinced us, and we are very much focused on people when we make decisions,” Doepfner said. “It’s the same with Business Insider. Henry Blodget was a key factor for our investment.”

Apple has updated its app for iTunesConnect and sent an email to developers regarding changes in Asian markets that may effect their app sales.

iTunesConneft-icon-175The update adds a very valuable feature: more push notifications. I’m told the app previously had push notifications (it is mentioned in prior app updates) but now likely expands the use of notifications (books are mentioned, for instance).

What’s New in Version 3.1
iTunes Connect for iOS now includes push notifications to keep you up to date with important changes regarding your products.

  • App status changes for developers
  • Quality control updates for movies and TV providers
  • Book availability notices for authors and publishers
  • Payment return and agreement expiration notices for all providers

These notifications can be managed in the Settings tab within iTunes Connect for iOS

Apple has also notified developers that in-app purchases in China will be now subject to a transactional tax.

“Consistent with other markets, we reduce the proceeds received from customers by the amount of any taxes, and then apply our commission. We will update the Pricing Matrix in Rights and Pricing in My Apps on iTunes Connect, and you can also download the new developer proceeds here (PDF).

There are also changes that effect apps in the Japanese market:

“Effective October 1, 2015, new tax laws go into effect in Japan with respect to foreign business that provide electronic commerce to Japanese residents. You may now be required to administer Japanese Consumption Tax (current rate of 8%) imposed under these new tax laws. Further details on the tax law changes can be found at Ministry of Finance Japan website.”

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