Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland ramped up its efforts in the streaming market and relaunched its video-on-demand service TV Now with a massively expanded offering at the end of 2018. For the first time, all Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland channels can be watched live and in HD quality, as can many German and US series. A special highlight: top series such as “M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder” (“M – A City Hunts a Murderer”). In addition, TV Now offers a wide range of high-quality live events, shows and documentaries. The VOD services in Belgium, Hungary and Croatia, which are based on Groupe M6’s VOD service 6play, will also be further developed. In France, the country’s major channels, including M6, teamed up to create the joint streaming platform Salto.
Penguin Random House already has a presence on six continents with nearly 275 independent publishing imprints, and its expansion continues – especially the building of its publishing business in growth regions and local languages. In 2018, the world’s leading trade book publisher announced that it will increase its stake in the renowned Brazilian publishing house Companhia das Letras to 70 percent. In India, it acquired Hind Pocket Books, a renowned national cultural institution, with its extensive Hindi paperback program and its deep roster of notable authors. Meanwhile, in South East Asia, one of the world’s most promising publishing regions, a new publishing unit, Penguin Random House South East Asia, was established. The acquisition of Rodale Books in the United States and Der Audio Verlag in Berlin further enhanced the creative diversity of Bertelsmann’s book business in 2018.
G+J’s AppLike recommendation platform provides impressive proof that start-ups, given the right support and a good portion of creativity, can do well worldwide. By the end of 2018, AppLike had 20 million users, and around 50,000 new users are added every day. The ad-tech company analyzes the usage behavior of smartphone owners and, based on this, recommends other apps to them. “We give smartphone users a practical way to find apps that match their wishes and preferences,” says founder Carlo Szelinsky, explaining the successful model. The app professionals are now global leaders in their market segment. In 2018, the app was available in 27 countries, 10 more than in the previous year. Three quarters of AppLike’s revenues are generated in the United States. The founders’ next destination: Asia.
BMG represents more than three million tracks and recordings by thousands of artists and composers worldwide. The company is building a steadily growing portfolio of music-related offerings around this core business – such as its film and book businesses. BMG’s first major movie production was a hit: “Bad Reputation” explores the eventful life of rock rebel Joan Jett (photo). In spring, the publishing rights were sold to the US distributor Magnolia Pictures. Follow-up projects include a documentary by the Academy Award-winning director Cameron Crowe about the guitarist and singer-songwriter David Crosby. BMG also expanded its book business: 2018 saw a doubling of its publishing program, to include highlights such as “Johnny Cash at Folsom and San Quentin” and “Dreaming of Dylan.”
Arvato CRM had an exciting year in 2018. In September, its parent company, Bertelsmann, and Morocco’s Saham Group announced plans to combine their worldwide Customer Relationship Management activities and eventually establish a global market leader in customer experience. The new company, Majorel, has a workforce of about 48,000 employees and generates revenues of approximately €1.2 billion. From the start, it occupied leading market positions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and had a strong presence in America and Asia. The new group intends to invest massively in further regional expansion and the transformation to digital. “For Bertelsmann, the partnership with Saham also offers a key to the growth markets of the African continent,” says Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe.
Arvato SCM Solutions successfully supports customers from a wide range of sectors with its broad portfolio of services. In 2018, the company intensified its cooperation with a manufacturer of medical technology products: Arvato SCM now provides a complete order-to-cash solution in 83 countries worldwide. The services offered cover all processes in the supply chain – from customer service and invoicing through transport and inventory management. In 2018, Arvato also took over all e-commerce business processes for the German and Eastern European markets of an internationally successful fashion company. That included developing a new logistics center in Kamen for deliveries to Germany, while Eastern Europe is supplied from another new logistics site in Stryków, Poland.
Claims handling in the aftermath of motor vehicle accidents usually takes a lot of time and energy. Arvato Financial Solutions, together with 3C, the technology service provider it acquired in 2018, has developed solutions that enable car drivers and insurers to complete the claims processing in just a few minutes. As soon as a policyholder reports an accident involving damage, a fully digitized process is initiated on the part of the insurance company. Arvato’s RiskShield 360° program uses objective, fully automated data analysis to check whether the damage reported is inconspicuous – and then initiates claims settlements directly via a portal developed by 3C. Only suspicious cases are reviewed separately. Everyone benefits from this: motorists as well as insurance companies.
The DeutschlandCard customer rewards program celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2018. With more than 20 million participants, the company has developed into Germany’s second-largest multipartner rewards program. The purple-and-orange card can be used at more than 10,000 stores and nearly 400 online shops to collect points for purchases. In return, customers are offered attractive rewards and discounts. Members can also choose to donate their points to charitable organizations. The participating companies, such as Edeka and ESSO Deutschland GmbH, also benefit from the addition of loyal customers.
In October 2018, Mohn Media secured its first major order from the United States: the production of the “Beastie Boys Book” for Penguin Random House. The first edition of the nearly 600-page memoir of the world-famous hip-hop group Beastie Boys, which had its glory days in the 1980s and 1990s, was printed in Gütersloh with a print run in the hundreds of thousands, for subsequent sale in the US. Media outlets, including “Rolling Stone” magazine and the “New York Times,” reported on the project. With this order, Europe’s leading offset printing company became even more international and proved that in-house collaboration between Bertelsmann’s divisions works – even across continents.
Significant Investment: In November 2018, Bertelsmann acquired the US online education provider OnCourse Learning – one of the largest acquisitions in the company’s history in the United States. Digital learning for professionals in acute care represents the core business of the company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin. It is an ideal complement to Bertelsmann’s e-learning subsidiary Relias, into which the healthcare division of OnCourse Learning was integrated. Together, they form a leading training provider across the continuum of care. “The acquisition strengthens Bertelsmann’s presence in the US, where it already generates more than 20 percent of its revenues,” says Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe.
Every industry is hungry for tech talent – from healthcare to hospitality, e-commerce to education. Udacity’s mission is to democratize education by offering world-class higher education opportunities. In 2018, the online learning company in which Bertelsmann holds a stake achieved 25 percent year-over-year overall revenue growth, highlighted by 100 percent enterprise revenue growth. The company now has 10 million registered students across all of its programs, up from eight million at the end of 2017. The company also launched 10 new Nanodegree programs and funded over 1.1 million new partial and full scholarships to its programs for students across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Bertelsmann expanded its education activities in Brazil in 2018. The Group acquired a majority stake in Afferolab, one of the country’s largest providers of corporate training. The company offers its more than 1,000 customers individual solutions, with conventional educational offerings as well as digital training programs. A growing number of people – about one million a year – are impacted by its services. Bertelsmann had acquired about 40 percent of the company’s shares in 2015, and is now the majority shareholder.
China is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and its urban population in particular is considered to be very online- and tech-savvy – the best possible conditions for media and tech start-ups. Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) has been a successful investor in this field for 10 years. Led by Annabelle Yu Long (photo), a member of Bertelsmann’s Group Management Committee, the business has become one of China’s most renowned funds. Today, many of its shareholdings are market leaders in their respective fields, have a global presence and some have grown into “unicorns” – the term used for young companies whose valuation exceeds the magic threshold of one billion US dollars – while others are well on their way to doing so. In 2018, BAI completed four IPOs, including the used-car portal Tuanche and the fashion e-commerce platform Mogu, and invested in about 40 companies.