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Hubert Burda Media Holding is a German media group with headquarters in Offenburg. Its history originates back to a small printing business founded in 1903 by Franz Burda in Philippsburg. The company rose to some prominence in Nazi Germany, where it benefited from "Aryanization" of Jewish property under the leadership of the founder's son Franz Burda and specialized in printing maps for the Wehrmacht. Franz Burda was a member of the Nazi Party and an avid Antisemite. In 1986, the corporate group was divided up between Franz, Frieder and Hubert Burda. In the 1980s and 1990s, the medium-sized Burda publishing company developed into a major corporation, which today, in terms of revenues, is among Germany's largest media companies.[7][8] Some well-known media brands are the magazines Bunte and Superillu, Playboy, the news magazine Focus, as well as The Huffington Post Germany. Also part of the group are HolidayCheck and XING, for example.

Hubert Burda Media Holding Kommanditgesellschaft
Hubert Burda Media
private (Kommanditgesellschaft)[1]
Industry media, publishing
Founded 1903; 115 years ago (1903)[2][3]
Headquarters Offenburg[1], Germany
Key people
Revenue Increase €2.256 billion[6] (2016)
Number of employees
Increase 10,440[6] (2016)
Website www.burda.com
Burda corporate headquarters, Offenburg (2014)

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
Wedding photo of Aenne and Franz Burda Sr (1931)

Founded as a printing companyEdit

From 1903, Franz Burda ("I"), the father of Franz Burda Sr ("II") and grandfather of Franz Burda Jr ("III") ran a small printing business in Philippsburg.[9] This was not a successful business venture, which is why in 1908 Burda opened up a new company in Offenburg.[10]

In 1927, the company came out with the first radio listings magazine in Germany, "Die Sürag",[11] with the subtitle the large radio magazine. Its name sounded like a short form of Süddeutscher Rundfunk. The initial circulation was 3,000 copies.[10] In 1929, Franz Burda Sr took over the business from his father, along with the editorial duties for Sürag. He expanded the business significantly – in the early 1930s, the magazine already reached circulation of over 85,000 - and the staff grew from three to roughly 100.[12] The actual rise of the company, however, began in 1934 with the buildup of new printing operations and the conversion to gravure printing.[13][14]

Business during the Nazi regimeEdit

The company's owner Franz Burda was a member of the Nazi Party and an avid Antisemite.[15] Already in 1933, Franz Burda emphasized the National Socialist mindset of his company. He declared that he was proud of not having any Jewish employees or shareholders.[16] The Burda company benefited from "Aryanization" of Jewish property in Nazi Germany; in this context Burda had the opportunity in 1938, together with the owner of Südwestdruck, Karl Fritz, to acquire for a bargain the major printing facility, Großdruckerei, Papiergroßhandlung und Papierwarenwerk Akademiestraße Gebrüder Bauer in Mannheim. Its shareholders were Jews.[17] It was one of the largest and most modern printing companies in the German Reich, with some 250 employees.[18] At the beginning of World War II, Burda had a staff of roughly 600 employees.

In 1941, production of the magazine "Die Sürag" was curtailed due to the war, and instead the company printed maps for the High Command of the German Army and aerial photographs in multi-color gravure printing for the Luftwaffe.[19] The map of Cherkasy from the Cartographical Studio Dr. Franz Burda was considered the world's first multi-colour gravure printed map.[20] The Mannheim plant, destroyed during bombing, was moved in 1943 to Lahr-Dinglingen.[21]

The history of the Burda publishing company during the Third Reich was described by Salomon Korn, Vice President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as a "case study for coming generations as to the question of guilt and conscience, of entanglement and dealing with the burden of this legacy".[21]

After World War IIEdit

In the aftermath of the war, Franz Burda Sr single-handedly reached an agreement with the survivors and descendants of the shareholders from the Mannheim Bauer Printing Press for reparations. The company Gebr. Bauer oHG was later deleted from the Commercial Register and subsequently run as a Burda company.[21] From 1945, the company printed schoolbooks and postage stamps for the French occupation zone, as well as the French military newspaper "Revue d'Information". After Franz Burda Sr received the order from the French authorities to publish a magazine, the illustrated newspaper "Das Ufer", was first published in 1948, a precursor of the "Bunte" ("Bunte Illustrierte"), against the opposition of many French officers.[19] The license for "Das Ufer" was issued under the name of a front woman.[16] At that time, the French occupation forces still compiled the editorial section of the magazine.[19]

Aenne Burda, the wife of Franz Burda Sr, built up the A. Burda fashion publishing house after the War.[22] Its key publication began in 1950 with Burda Moden, a magazine for sewing patterns. The first edition of the precursor under the name of "Favorit" was already launched in 1949.[23] In just a few years, circulation grew from 100,000 in the beginning to roughly half a million copies.[24] Aenne Burda developed into what was by far the largest customer of the printing operations of her husband, who had absolutely no authority in her company. She only granted a participating share to her children as limited partners.[19] In 1954, the publishing company of Aenne Burda moved into new headquarters along Kestendamm in Offenburg, which the architect Egon Eiermann had designed.[25] From 1954/55, advertising for the Burda publications was handled, among other means, by the so-called "Burda Fleet",[26] three Piper PA-18 airplanes with banners flying behind the tail.[27]

Expansion through takeoversEdit

In 1960, Burda took over the "Münchner Illustrierte", which was integrated into "Bunte".[10] In the years to follow, the company built up its presence in the Bavarian capital of Munich, which in addition to Offenburg became the company's second headquarters.[28] In 1961, the printing press in Offenburg was converted to modern rotogravure printing presses.[26] In addition, the 50 m high Burda Tower was inaugurated and developed into a symbol of the city.[10] Already in the 1950s, a smokestack of the printing operations served as an observation point with an elevator and a terrace restaurant.[29] In 1962, Burda acquired the majority of the Neue Verlags-Gesellschaft publishing company based in Karlsruhe, known for magazines such as "Freundin" and "Film Revue".[29] At the end of the 1940s, Marie-Pierre Kœnig, Commander-in-chief of the French Army in Germany and Military Governor of the French Occupation Zone, was head of the publishing house.[30] In 1953, Karl Fritz, who together with Burda had acquired the Bauer Printing Press in 1938, then purchased the Neue Verlags-Gesellschaft.[21] With the takeover in 1962, the Bambi film prize also came to the Burda publishing house.[31] In 1963, Burda acquired the traditional "Frankfurter Illustrierte", which was also integrated into "Bunte". From then on, the publication was called "Bunte Münchner Frankfurter Illustrierte".[10]

Hubert Burda joins the firmEdit

In 1966, Hubert Burda joined the company. After he obtained a Ph.D. in Art History and completing various traineeships, Franz Burda initially put him in charge of the Munich publishing house.[32] The men's magazine "M", launched at the end of the 1960s with a million-DM advertising budget, had to be discontinued by Burda after 12 editions, which cost the publishing house losses that went into the millions.[19] In 1973, Franz Burda Sr then largely retired from the business: He made his children, Franz Jr, Frieder and Hubert managing shareholders.[26] Whereas Franz Burda Jr was responsible for the printing operations, Frieder Burda handled the finances and administration of the company. Hubert Burda managed all publishing activities.[33] He also worked as editor for "Bunte", was managing editor, advancing to editor-in-chief in 1976.[34] Influenced by Andy Warhol, he led the evolution of the publication from a traditional magazine to a modern popular magazine ("people magazine").[35] In 1983, the "Bunte" editorial staff moved from Offenburg to Munich.[36] The offices were in the newly built headquarters of the Burda Verlag at Arabellapark,[26] where the company has a location to this day.[37]

The company is divided upEdit

Over the years, through numerous mergers and acquisitions, the printing and publishing house evolved into a large corporate group, which after the death of Franz Burda Sr was re-organized in the year 1986.[38][39][40] The brothers, Franz and Frieder, took over all affiliate shares, including those in US printing houses, German paper factories and Austrian media distribution. The most lucrative were the shares in the Berlin-based publisher Axel Springer, which distributed dividends in the millions.[41] Already back in 1983, Burda had acquired a stake of 24.9% in Axel Springer.[42][43] Franz and Frieder bundled their shareholdings in F+F Burda KG based in Baden-Baden.[44] Hubert Burda became the sole shareholder of Burda GmbH with headquarters in Offenburg.[41] This company bundled all German printing and publishing activities.[45] By separating the operative business from the shareholding in Axel Springer, the owners averted anti-trust issues.[46][40] As a result, Franz Burda Jr and Frieder Burda were able to increase their equity into a blocking minority.[47] In 1988, they suddenly sold their shares again to the heirs of Axel Springer, although they had actually been seeking a majority in Axel Springer with Leo Kirch.[48] Hubert Burda had doubts as to the legality of the transaction, asserting a preemptory right of purchase for the Springer shares.[49] The courts did not follow his reasoning, however.[50]

Development to a media groupEdit

At the same time of the legal dispute with his brothers, Hubert Burda's publishing house had to deal with declining revenues.[51] This only turned around at the end of the 1980s, when the circulation of "Bunte", in particular, rallied again.[52] A decisive factor in the further growth of the company was the expansion to the east: In 1987, "Burda Moden" was the first Western magazine sold in the Soviet Union.[53] After German Reunification, Burda initiated "Superillu" in cooperation with Gong Verlag.[54] It was conceived as "integration and lifestyle assistance as East and West grow together" and became one of the best-selling magazines in the new German states.[55][56] By contrast, the East German tabloid, "Super!", launched in 1992, was a failure. In order to compensate for the losses incurred, Burda even had to sell the headquarters at Arabellapark.[57] The successful launch of "Focus" made up for the problems: Established in 1993 by Hubert Burda and Helmut Markwort,[58] the magazine had 15,000 subscribers after five editions and reached a circulation of 300,000 sold copies.[59] Later, "Focus" even sold more advertising than "Der Spiegel".[60] "Focus" was an important factor in the development of the Burda publishing house into a media corporation.[61][62][63]

With the retirement of Aenne Burda in the year 1994, Hubert Burda purchased all the shares of the remaining family members and thus became the sole owner of the publishing house. It was integrated into the Group, yet substantively remained largely independent.[64][65] At the turn of the year 1994/1995, Burda consolidated its radio and TV shares and integrated them into the profit center structure that exists to this day.[66][67] In addition, the Group promoted greater international focus by establishing various foreign subsidiaries.[26]

Investments in digital activitiesEdit

From 1995, Burda increasingly invested in digital business models and created a separate division for this purpose.[68] As one of the first steps, the company took a stake in Europa Online, a Luxembourg online service.[69][70] At the beginning of 1996, "Focus Online" was launched, representing the first editorial news service from Burda,[71][72] and additional websites followed.[73] Although Europa Online did not prove to be successful,[74] Burda continued its expansion on the Internet.[75] In 2000, the Group consolidated its digital businesses in Focus Digital AG,[76] which merged with Tomorrow Internet AG to become what was at the time the largest Internet group.[77] To more accurately reflect the change in business,[78] the company changed its name at the end of the 1990s to "Hubert Burda Media".[26] A corresponding sign was also installed at the Burda Media Park in Offenburg, which opened in 2000:[79] The futuristic new building emerged on the site of the former Kinzig Stadium.[80] The Burda School of Journalism also moved in there in 2001.[81]

In 2000, total operating performance of Hubert Burda Media first exceeded 3 billion Deutsche Mark.[82]

In 2005, Hubert Burda Media initiated the international conference and innovation platform Digital Life Design (DLD).[83] Since its inception, it has attracted leading innovators, Internet investors and companies to Munich.[84][85] In 2007, the Group took over the remaining shares in the Vogel Burda joint venture, which, among others, owns the computer magazine "Chip", established in 1988, and the technology portal "Chip Online".[86][87] In 2009, Burda invested in XING:[88][89] The media conglomerate initially purchased 25.1% of the shares,[90] and assumed the majority three years later.[91][92] In a 2012 article in Manager Magazine, this was interpreted as another important step in Burda's digital expansion.[93]

Handover of operative managementEdit

On his 70th birthday, Hubert Burda announced his retirement from the operative business.[94] At the turn of the year 2009/10, Paul-Bernhard Kallen was appointed as new CEO of the Group,[95] and Hubert Burda remained publisher and managing shareholder.[96] Observers in turn viewed the appointment as a strengthening of the digital side of the business.[97][98] Under Kallen's leadership, for example, the subsidiary Tomorrow Focus started up a German-language version of "The Huffington Post",[99][100] a world-renowned news and discussion platform.[101] In addition, Hubert Burda Media 2013 acquired a majority in the web browser "Cliqz", in which the Mozilla Foundation also later invested.[102][103] In 2016, a group subsidiary started up the open source CMS "Thunder",[104][105] which is also open to other media companies.[106]

Group structureEdit

Hubert Burda Media is organized in a decentralized profit center structure.[107][108] The subsidiaries operate largely independently, whereas procurement, for example, is handled at the corporate level. The companies included in the consolidation of the Group in 2015 comprised a total of 233 companies, of which 140 were headquartered in Germany.[6] The holding company of the Group is Hubert Burda Media Holding Kommanditgesellschaft.[6] The personally liable shareholders (general partners) of the company are Hubert Burda and a Management GmbH, which in turn is 100% owned by the holding company.[1] The limited partners of the company are the Burda Betriebsführungsgesellschaft as well as Hubert Burda's two children.[1] Elisabeth and Jacob Burda were given a share in the Group for the first time at the end of 2010.[109][110] The operative management of the Group reports to a Management Board comprising five persons.[6] The CEO of the management body is Paul-Bernhard Kallen,[111] who in 2010 was the first manager from outside the family to assume the position.[112] Holger Eckstein is the CFO,[113] Andreas Rittstieg is responsible for Legal Affairs and Compliance.[114] Philipp Welte handles the national media brands,[115] Stefan Winners the national digital brands.[116]

Media and digital brandsEdit

Hubert Burda Media owns magazines, websites, TV and radio broadcasters. Including Radio Times and over 70 other magazines. It also acquired Immediate Media from its private equity owner Exponent and Management for £270m.[117] In addition, various mail order companies, along with service and marketing firms, are part of the Group.[118] The Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) lists over 200 majority or minority shareholdings for Germany alone.[119] The Group and its publishers are considered trailblazers in the media industry in terms of the development of digital business models.[120] Hubert Burda Media earns more than half its revenues in this area.[121][122][123]

According to the company's own figures, roughly 550 media products are currently being released in Germany and 20 other countries.[118][6] The key divisions of the Group are Blue Ocean Entertainment, BCN, BurdaDirect, BurdaDruck, BurdaForward, BurdaHome, BurdaInternational, BurdaLife, BurdaNews, BurdaPrincipal Investments, BurdaServices, BurdaStudios, BurdaStyle, BurdaTech, C3 Creative Code and Content, HolidayCheck Group and XING.[124] The divisions operate largely independently as profit centers.[6]

Well known media and digital brands of Hubert Burda Media are, for example:

BunteEdit

Bunte is a German-language people magazine. It was first published in 1948 under the name "Das Ufer".[125] Under the leadership of Hubert Burda, Bunte developed into a modern popular magazine.[126][127] Today, Bunte has one of the highest circulations of all German publications and is one of the most popular media brands in the Group.[128] After Patricia Riekel stepped down, Robert Pölzer took over the position of editor-in-chief.[129]

ChipEdit

Chip was established by Kurt Eckernkamp in 1978 as the first German-language computer magazine.[130] The publication developed into the market leader in that segment, measured in terms of circulation.[131] The success of Chip was also facilitated by the expansion into over a dozen other countries.[132] Since 2007, Chip has been a fully owned subsidiary of Hubert Burda Media.[133] The acting editor-in-chief is Josef Reitberger.[134]

Another digital brand of Hubert Burda Media is Chip Online, one of the largest German-language editorial websites.[135][136]

CliqzEdit

Cliqz is a web browser with an integrated search engine, unveiled in 2015.[137] It stands out in particular thanks to its search function without traditional search results pages and tracking protection.[138][139] Cliqz supports Windows, macOS, iOS and Android operating systems.[140] In 2016, the Mozilla Foundation invested in Cliqz.[141][142]

CyberportEdit

Cyberport is an electronics retailer, established in 1998.[143] The company sells notebooks, tablets, smartphones and other devices, both online and in its own outlets.[144] A private equity company from Hubert Burda Media has already been supporting the buildup of Cyberport with venture capital, and in the year 2000, the Group increased its stake to acquire a majority.[145][146]

Digital Life DesignEdit

Digital Life Design (or DLD for short) is the international conference and innovation platform of Hubert Burda Media.[147][148] It was launched in 2005 as "Digital Lifestyle Day".[149] In the years that followed, DLD developed into a significant event in the Internet and media sector.[150] In this, it is regularly known for attracting the participation of representatives from large US groups.[151][152][153]

FocusEdit

Focus is a German-language news magazine.[154][155] It was established in 1993 as an alternative to Der Spiegel.[58][156] Today, Focus is one of the three most widely circulated German weeklies.[157][158] The concept originates from publisher Hubert Burda and founding editor-in-chief Helmut Markwort.[159][160] He is assisted by Uli Baur.[161][162] Since March 1, 2016, Robert Schneider has been editor-in-chief of Focus.[163][164]

Focus Online, one of the most widespread German-language websites, also belongs to Hubert Burda Media.[165][166]

Freizeit RevueEdit

Freizeit Revue is a German-language tabloid magazine. The first edition appeared on the market in 1970.[167] The publication contains reporting from the world of celebrities, crossword puzzles and practical tips.[168] Over the years, Freizeit Revue developed into one of the most widely circulated and most profitable publications of Hubert Burda Media.[169][170] The editor-in-chief of Freizeit Revue is Kai Winckler.[171]

HolidayCheck GroupEdit

The worldwide travel and review portals of Hubert Burda Media are bundled under the HolidayCheck Group.[172] Measured in terms of brokered revenues, HolidayCheck is among the leading websites of this kind in Germany.[173] The publicly listed HolidayCheck Group has been going by that name since 2016, previously the company was called Tomorrow Focus.[174] This originated in the year 2001 with the merger of Tomorrow with Focus Digital.[175]

InStyleEdit

In 1998, Hubert Burda Media launched the German-language woman's magazine InStyle. It is a product licensed from the US Time Inc. publishing company.[176] InStyle reports on the fashion and lifestyle of stars and style icons.[177][178] It is geared towards younger woman readers.[179] The editor-in-chief of InStyle is Kerstin Weng.[180]

SuperilluEdit

The Burda Group established the German-language magazine Superillu after German Reunification especially for the East German market.[181] The publication grew into the most widely read magazine.[182] Die Zeit thus referred to Superillu as the "Mouthpiece of the East".[183] The magazine contained not only regional interest stories,[184] rather it evolved over the years, in terms of content, into a broad-based family magazine.[185] Stefan Kobus is editor-in-chief of the publication.[186]

XINGEdit

XING is a German-language social networking service for professional contacts, with more than ten million German-speaking members.[187][188] It was founded in 2003 under the name OpenBC by Lars Hinrichs.[189] Initially, Hubert Burda Media acquired one-quarter of XING,[190] then in 2012, the company acquired the majority.[191] Over the past few years, XING has been promoting, above all, online job placement.[192] Editorial content is also a key focus.[193]

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Further readingEdit

  • Gisela Freisinger (2005). Hubert Burda - Der Medienfürst. Frankfurt am Main: Campus-Verlag. ISBN 3-593-37417-X. 
  • Peter Köpf (2002). Die Burdas. Hamburg/Wien: Europa-Verlag. ISBN 3-203-79145-5. 

External linksEdit