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Axel Springer CEO Matthias Döpfner: "One month in AI is like two years on the old Internet."

Photo: Michael Kappeler/ picture alliance / dpa

The Axel Springer publishing house wants to secure expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) with acquisitions. "We have decided to set up an M&A competence center," CEO Mathias Döpfner said in an internal podcast to employees, which was obtained by the Reuters news agency. This team should only focus on acquisitions (M&A). It is about "acquisitions of AI companies in the early or late phase – which can be important or attractive for Axel Springer for various reasons".

It is possible that you make about five takeovers and that it doesn't work five times. "Perhaps we will choose the new StepStone among them, which will change Axel Springer in the future." StepStone is the successful online job portal of the Berlin-based media company, which is scheduled to go public before the end of 2023.

The pace of change in artificial intelligence is enormous, said Döpfner. »One month in AI is like two years in the old Internet.« Large companies would have clear advantages here.

In the case of takeovers, Springer would be interested in the debate on fake news "how we can avoid counterfeiting and how we can increase trustworthiness and truthfulness". AI could be the problem and also the solution. Or perhaps there is a category of companies that are more focused on disrupting and upending the business models of existing classifieds stores, e-commerce companies, price comparisons, media brands and journalism as a whole through so-called "disruption." I would be very interested in understanding these companies and investing in them," Döpfner explained. If someone wants to kill journalism, let's understand how and why, and let us journalists do it ourselves."

Recently, there had been excitement about Döpfner's statements. In internal news reported by the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, he described East Germans as "fascists" or "communists" and campaigned for FDP-friendly reporting in the Bild newspaper.