New York Times Invests in Dutch Pay-Per-Article Startup Blendle

The Times and German publisher Axel Springer Digital Ventures invest 3 million euro — or $3.8 million

The New York Times
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The New York Times and Axel Springer Digital Ventures have agreed to invest 3 million euro ($3.8 million) in Series A financing in Dutch startup Blendle.

Self-described as the “iTunes for journalism,” Blendle launched six months ago as a website and app that allows readers to search for articles and pay for the ones they want individually. Each article cost about $0.20 and publishers keep 70 percent of revenues.

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In its short time in existence, the online pay-per-article platform has struck up deals with big newspaper and magazine publishers in the Netherlands — where Blendle is based — and with The Economist in the U.S.

Blendle currently has more than 130,000 registered users.

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The New York Times and Axel Springer will jointly receive 23 percent in Blendle, but “will not have any insight in the Blendle sales numbers of other associated publishers and their affiliated newspapers and publications will not receive any preferential treatment and will contract with Blendle on an arm’s length basis,” according to a Blendle statement.

The two Blendle founders, 27-year-old former journalists, Alexander Klöpping and Marten Blankesteijn, will continue to fully control the company with the remaining more than 75 percent of share capital.

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“We are truly honored that two of the world’s most influential publishers show so much trust in us,” Klöpping wrote on the company’s website. “Axel Springer has successfully transformed its business into a digital publishing house with a great portfolio of online offerings and start-ups that we believe we can learn a lot from. The New York Times’ online strategy serves as a worldwide example for other newspapers and magazines.”

“As a publisher we want to convince users to pay for great journalism; also in the digital age. I’m therefore delighted that a European startup is building a platform for paid access to quality journalism that is easy to use. Blendle has the potential to attract young, internet savvy readers,” added Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE.