Yesterday, The Financial Times (FT) purchased a controlling stake in Amsterdam-based media company The Next Web (TNW). It’s the FT’s first acquisition in continental Europe, the company said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TNW began acquisition inquiries two years ago but wasn’t tempted to court any venture-capital funding, according to Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, TNW Founder and CEO. “VC money, in general, comes with a sense of urgency, and not in a good way. You can’t take VC funding and not have a clear plan to an exit in the foreseeable future. We weren’t interested in it. We wanted to find a partner who could help us grow.”
TNW is an open-access site with a global audience of over 3 million monthly unique visitors spanning markets including the U.S. and U.K., according to comScore. The deal will see FT take ownership of the Amsterdam-based media company’s website The Next Web and the TNW Conference, an annual event that draws 17,500 attendees from around 3,500 companies a year, according to TNW.
Many in the industry have noted that the acquisition will help bolster the publisher’s own live global events business, FT Live, which produces 150 different events a year, including the FT Innovation Summit. According to FT in a press release, it “will deepen the FT’s reach into the European technology community and create synergies with its existing events business, FT Live. The move also complements the FT’s recent investment in Sifted, a new media and data platform targeting Europe’s innovators and entrepreneurs, and the expansion of various other tech-themed editorial products.”
In an article published on TNW, TNW Founder Patrick de Laive wrote “I’m super proud of the team and everybody who ever worked at TNW. I’m proud we brought the company to this point. For us, this is an exciting new chapter. TNW will continue to operate independently, and Boris and I will be able to execute the vision and four-year plan that we set out.”
Fast Company wrote “the venerated newspaper [FT] has been one of the few media companies able to remain relatively stable during the big digital media shift. It’s dabbled in monetization models that have proven to be good bets, while other companies flailed as Google and Facebook began to eat up most of the digital advertising marketshare. This acquisition indicates that the FT is looking into new ways it can increase its global prominence.”
Some experts have noted that it will take work from both sides of the agreement, as FT’s subscription model and content lean more to B2B and is more formal than TNW’s lighter and more casual tone. TNW is famous for being not only tech-savvy, but a breath of fresh air for its unorthodox tone which can be seen clearly on their daily newsletter, “The Big Spam.”
The acquisition forms part of a corporate development strategy that has seen the FT diversify its business in strategic areas.