The Axel-Springer-Verlag wants to secure expertise in the field of artificial intelligence with acquisitions. “We have decided to set up an M&A competence center,” said CEO Mathias Döpfner in an internal podcast to employees that was available to the Reuters news agency on Friday. This team should only focus on acquisitions (M&A). It is about “acquisitions of AI companies in the early phase or in the late phase – which can be important or attractive for Axel Springer for various reasons”.
It is possible that you make about five takeovers and five times that it doesn’t work. “Perhaps we will choose among them the new StepStone, which will change Axel Springer in the future.” StepStone is the successful online job portal of the Berlin media company, which should go public in 2023 if the market environment improves.
The pace of change in artificial intelligence (AI) is enormous, said Döpfner. “A month in the AI is like two years in the old Internet.” Large companies have clear advantages here – “in terms of their data treasure”. In the case of takeovers, it would be important for Springer in the debate about fake news “how we can avoid fakes and how we can increase trustworthiness and truthfulness”. AI can be the problem and also the solution. But perhaps there is also a category of companies that are more focused on disrupting the business models of existing classifieds businesses, e-commerce companies, price comparison companies, media brands and journalism in general through so-called “disruption”.
“I would be very interested in understanding and investing in these companies,” said Döpfner. “If someone wants to kill journalism, let’s understand how and why, and let us journalists do it ourselves.”