Branching off my ClassTag/Venture Capital post -- CDNow, Bertelsmann, Amazon, Newark Venture Partners, Don Katz, Audible (Amazon), Lavrock Ventures, Veritonic, Scott Simonelli, Damian Scragg, Machine Listening and Learning

Ambler, PA

Founded in 1994

Status: Inactive


Employee Count:
Tax Status:
February 2, 1994


Mike Krupit, Jason Olim, Matthew Olim, Timothy Allen, Tim Allen


CDNow was an early online music sales platform.

The company, founded in 1994 by brothers Jason and Matthew Olim in their parents’ Ambler, Pa. basement, was a major player in the Philly area’s dot-com scene and one of the decade’s best known websites. By scale, size and impact (having been an online retailer before 1995) it was one of the area’s most successful dot-com era technology startups. It also cultivated local talent — team members landed at firms like GSI Commerce, Monetate and Yellowbook.

The company sold music online, pre-Napster, pre-iTunes. It offered music reviews and recommendations based on a customer’s interests. It was the first online store to sell single songs instead of a full CD, said Jason Olim.

In August 1997, the company had 75 employees when it took $10 million in an initial investment round, said former CEO and COO Mike Krupit. In February 1998, CDNow went public with a $342 million valuation at $16 a share and the stock jumped 37 percent that first day.

First reported the previous fall, in March 1999, CDNow merged with its largest competitor Music Boulevard. By then it had 750 employees, was “outgrowing 90,000 square feet in Fort Washington” and sold $150 million worth of music a year, said Krupit, but failing to profit on most individual sales.

As soon as March 2000 the company was seeing stock market doubts. An attempt at an acquisition by Sony and Time Warner failed.

In July 2000, German-based media company Berteslmann [sic] acquired CDNow for $3 a share or roughly $117 million.

By 2002, Berteslmann [sic] licensed CDNow operations to former competitor, as noted in this New York Times story from the time, which called CDNow ‘pioneering’ but effectively marked the end of the venture. The brand and domain were phased out over time.

About Don Katz

Don Katz is the founder and executive chairman of Audible (an Amazon company) and founded Newark Venture Partners to connect Newark to the east coast technology ecosystem and create New Jersey’s most elite early-stage fund and accelerator. He has served on the board of Uncommon Schools since the organization was founded in 1997 and served as Chairman of Newark’s Brick City Development Corporation in 2014.

We Unleash The Power of The Spoken Word

Audible is the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling, enriching the lives of our millions of listeners every day. With our customer-centric approach to technological innovation and superior programming, Audible has reinvented a media category, and is the driving force behind today’s audio entertainment revolution.

Lavrock Ventures and Newark Venture Partners funded audio analytics company Veritonic:

The audio creative research and analytics company Veritonic is getting $7.5 million in new funding to expand its audio advertising research tools. The company has closed a Series A funding round led by Lavrock Ventures, with additional investment from Progress Ventures, Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau and Newark Venture Partners.

As part of the investment, Lavrock Ventures general partner Daniel Hanks will join the company’s board of directors.

As more and more brands see audio as a must-have marketing vehicle for reaching and resonating with audiences, Veritonic aspires to be the industry standard for audio advertising measurement. Veritonic founder and CEO Scott Simonelli says the cash infusion will allow it to hire more employees and more fully develop its analytics and measurement platform to keep pace with growing demand from marketers.

“The industry can’t grow without credible, reliable standards that are accurate and this funding helps us scale that,” Simonelli says. “It’s hard to do that for an industry as fragmented as the audio landscape…Hopefully, this helps us develop that standard to push the audio industry forward and, secondarily, I hope it provides the opportunity for 5-10 more companies who are similar to get funding and grow as well, because we don’t want to be on an island.”

The funding comes as digital audio ad spending (not including podcasting) is expected to increase 11% in 2022 to $6.21 billion, according to eMarketer. Podcast ad revenue is growing at a faster clip, with eMarketer forecasting 28.6% growth to more than $1.7 billion this year.

Scoring Audio Ads

Advertisers, agencies, and audio companies use Veritonic’s platform to research, test, and measure return on investment for audio ads and audio logos at various stages of a campaign. Among the services it provides are spending benchmarks for various ad categories. An insurance brand, for instance, can see what its competitors are investing in audio.

But Veritonic may be best known for testing audio ad creative to help marketers make advertising decisions and optimize their campaigns. That helps clients learn “what works for this audience or which audio ad or which piece of music or which voice to use,” Simonelli tells Inside Radio. The third service area for Veritonic is attribution – measuring how the ad performed in brand lift and other metrics and how that can improve the campaign the next time around.

Simonelli says Veritonic does this by going beyond standard tracking metrics like web traffic and ad clicks to leverage five years of testing audio campaigns for its Veritonic Audio Score. It knows, for example, that a certain type of audio ad scores high for purchase intent before it’s even run. “We already think we know the answer in a lot of cases and we’re using that standard performance plumbing to provide a comprehensive understanding of what’s happening sonically, what’s being said, what music is playing,” Simonelli explains.

While podcast advertising is the growth driver for audio right now, Veritonic measures audio advertising in all of its forms: broadcast radio, streaming audio, podcasting, even ads created expressly to be heard on smart speakers. Sonic branding is also on a growth tear with brand marketers. “People are [saying] ‘If I don’t have an audio strategy, I’m not doing my job,” Simonelli says. “And how do I connect the audio part of what I’m doing with the rest of my advertising.”

In addition to working with brand advertisers and agencies such as Indeed, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Shopify and Havas, Veritonic also counts NPR, SXM Media, Westwood One and Audacy among its media partners.

“Insightful data and research from the Veritonic platform allow us to make strategic, informed decisions around every element of our sponsors’ audio campaigns which result in them continuously outperforming our expectations,” National Public Media President & CEO Gina Garrubbo said in a statement.

Scott Simonelli is CEO and co-founder of Veritonic. He built the company to fill a critical gap in media and technology: the ability for marketers and others to make the same kind of data-driven decisions about audio creative as they do about everything else, so they can maximize the massive opportunity around audio.

A pioneer in online testing and optimization, Scott led business development at OrderGroove as the company grew from its earliest stage to relationships with brands like Walmart, P&G, L’Oreal and CVS. He helped start online testing pioneer Optimost and was instrumental in leading the company from its inception through its acquisition by Interwoven/HP (NYSE: HPQ). Prior to Optimost, Scott held positions at Sony Music, Boosey & Hawkes and even taught elementary school music.

Scott is a summa cum laude graduate of The Catholic University of America with a degree in Music Education and Composition, and he is also a working composer.

Damian Scragg

General Manager, International & Brand Sales, Veritonic

A marketing technology leader for over two decades, Damian leads all non-US business for Veritonic, the industry’s leading competitive, testing, and performance solution for audio. He works closely with brands, agencies and audio platforms to develop a data-first approach to their audio strategies.

Prior to joining Veritonic, Damian spent eight years as SVP/European MD for Evidon, the first privacy/data governance platform for media, which was acquired by Crownpeak in 2017. The company’s SaaS platform provides brands with unprecedented insight into the third-party tracking on their sites, and the guidance to control it for the benefit of their business and consumers alike.

Before Evidon, Damian was European Sales Director for Right Media, the first advertising exchange and foundation for modern programmatic advertising (acquired by Yahoo! In 2007). His experience also includes sales leadership roles at Auditude, Abacus, CACI & Centaur.

Otherwise, you’ll find Damian playing with his two young children, running ultras, swimming in lakes and occasionally being electrocuted whilst covered in mud.

Being able to assess the universe of podcast ads, radio / streaming ads, sonic brands and other assets is critical, but only a common metric gives it meaning. Veritonic Audio Score is the linchpin of audio measurement.

It’s powered by Machine Listening and Learning (M-LAL™), trained through years of analyzing thousands of audio files, correlating them with second-by-second human response data, and predicting response.

A platform that keeps getting smarter, making it easier for you to win audio.

What goes in:

More audio data than has ever been analyzed.

The Veritonic platform has been ingesting audio assets from the biggest brands in the world — ads, branding elements, voiceovers, and more — for over six years. It analyzes their innate characteristics (like melody) and content components (like copy), records how they resonate with people, and compares them to other, similar assets in the platform.

How it’s processed:

Machine Listening and Learning for fast, deep insights.

Veritonic Machine Listening and Learning (MLAL™) is trained through years of taking each audio asset, extracting a number of specific features, and correlating them with Veritonic’s set of second-by-second human response data.

Assets get an instant predictive score to start.

The machine continues to learn by capturing the realtime emotional response, recall and purchase intent of the audiences you’re interested in. From the general population to any custom segment you wish to create, the live human response data helps to validate the prediction and ensures that the platform is always getting smarter.

What comes out:

Clear, actionable intelligence with Veritonic Audio Score.

Veritonic Audio Score is the first rating standard for audio creative. It incorporates all of the above learning into one, simple metric, making it easy for you to understand the overall value of a particular asset (audio ad, voiceover, sonic brand element, music, script and more) and compare it to others in the market.

That clear guidance empowers you to make more informed decisions about how to optimize audio creative — in less time — and ensure that it resonates most effectively with customers.

Smarter, deeper insights.

We’ve made ratings even more comprehensive and meaningful by evolving our methodology to incorporate more data points and, with Machine Listening and Learning, producing smarter insights.

Each audio file’s Veritonic Audio Score builds in its individual measure for:

  • Emotional Resonance
  • Memorability (Recall)
  • Purchase Intent
  • Engagement

Most importantly, context is now incorporated into every metric, making it easier for you to compare an audio asset’s relative power to achieve your goal.

Better perspective with multi-dimensional benchmarks.

Since each creative is tagged for a range of characteristics, you can weigh assets against numerous benchmarks — from industry sector to competitive set — for a practical sense of their relative value.

Compare assets:

  • By industry/sector
  • Across your own assets
  • Against competitors
  • By voice gender
  • By channel, and much more

See Learning is Earning - first segment is a delivery driver who “loves to read” aka listen to audio books. 2016.

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Here is a podcast – imprinted with indigenous music and trance-inducing beats, while learning about smart contracts (quite a clever tactic, despite the disconnect) . . .

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Bertelmann - Sarnoff connection

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See also: List of assets owned by Bertelsmann

Bertelsmann is a decentralized organization.[187] This means that the divisions largely work independently. The holding handles central tasks, in the field of corporate finance, for example.[188] In 2016, Bertelsmann introduced a new structure of eight divisions:[189] RTL Group (television and radio), Penguin Random House (book publishing), BMG (music rights), Arvato (services), Bertelsmann Education Group (education), Bertelsmann Printing Group (printing) and Bertelsmann Investments (investments).[190]

RTL Group[edit]

Main article: RTL Group

RTL Group logo

RTL Group is a leading European entertainment provider, based in Luxembourg.[191] The company runs a commercial private television and radio channels in several countries, including RTL and VOX in Germany.[192][193] In 2015, with the RTL Digital Hub, the company launched a dedicated unit for web videos.[194] In addition, production companies, such as Fremantle, are part of the RTL Group.[195] In January 1997, Bertelsmann merged the UFA film and television company with Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT). The merger of CLT-UFA with Pearson TV in the year 2000 marked the beginning of the RTL Group.[196] The company is listed on the stock exchange and has been majority-owned by Bertelsmann since 2001.[197][198] Following the sale of shares in 2013, the stake is 75.1%.[199] In 2021, sales of the RTL Group were 6.637 billion.[200]

Penguin Random House[edit]

Main article: Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House logo

Penguin Random House is the world’s largest book publishing company.[201] The company was created in 2013 through the merger of the publishing businesses of Bertelsmann and Pearson.[202] With the acquisition of Random House in 1998, Bertelsmann already became the largest book publisher in the English-speaking world.[203] 250 publishing houses on five continents are part of the company, including Random House and Penguin Books, but also Doubleday, Knopf and Viking.[204] The German Verlagsgruppe Random House (Goldmann, Heyne and others), based in Munich, is not part of Penguin Random House,[205] yet it does belong to the same division at Bertelsmann.[206] Penguin Random House has its main headquarters in the Penguin Random House Tower in New York City.[207] Since 2020, Bertelsmann owns 100% of the company.[208] In 2021, the company achieved sales of €4.030 billion.[200]


Main article: BMG Rights Management

BMG logo

BMG is a music publishing company based in Berlin. The BMG catalog encompasses rights to works by artists such as Céline Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Ronan Keatingand Britney Spears.[209] In 2008, the company was created after the group divested from the music market.[210][211] Following the sale of Sony BMG, Bertelsmann had retained the rights to 200, mainly European, artists.[212] In 2009, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts came on board with BMG, retaining a 51% majority in the company, and Bertelsmann held 49%.[213] Since 2013, BMG has once again become a fully owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann.[214][215] In 2016, BMG became a division of Bertelsmann.[216] In 2021, BMG had revenues of €663 million.[200]


Main article: Arvato

Arvato logo

Arvato is an international service provider. In its current form, the company originated in the year 1999.[217] At that time, the print and industry sectors at Bertelsmann were restructured, whereby services received a higher priority than the print and machinery sector back then.[218][219] Since the 1950s, Bertelsmann has been an active service provider,[220] delivering books for other publishing companies, for example.[221] To this day, Vereinigte Verlagsauslieferung (VVA) has belonged to Arvato.[222] What’s more, today Arvato offers services, for example, in the areas of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and finance, as well as information technology.[223][224] The main headquarters of Arvato is Gütersloh, and additional locations exist in 22 countries, including China and the United States.[225] In 2021, sales of Arvato reached a volume of €5.035 billion.[200]

Bertelsmann Printing Group[edit]

Main article: Bertelsmann Printing Group

Bertelsmann Printing Group logo

In January 2016, Bertelsmann bundled its printing activities in digital, offset and gravure in the Bertelsmann Printing Group.[226][227] It is Europe’s largest player in the industry.[228] The corporate group is located in Gütersloh.[229] Bertelsmann Printing Group includes not only GGP Media, Mohn Media, Prinovis, Sonopress, Vogel Druck and several other companies, but also Be Printers.[230] Be Printers is in turn a spin-off of Arvato, created in 2012, in order to consolidate the group’s printing business.[231] The business has been under pressure for years due to declining print editions.[232] In 2021, the Bertelsmann Printing Group achieved sales of €1.319 billion.[200]

Bertelsmann Education Group[edit]

Bertelsmann Education Group logo

The Bertelsmann Education Group is dedicated to the education sector.[233] It was established in 2015 and has its headquarters in New York City.[234] It includes, for example, the Alliant International University and Relias Learning.[235] The acquisition of Relias Learning in 2014 formed the cornerstone for the Bertelsmann Education Group and was the largest acquisition by Bertelsmann since the purchase of Random House.[236][237] In 2021, the Bertelsmann Education Group generated sales of €283 million.[200]

Bertelsmann Investments[edit]

Bertelsmann Investments logo

The Bertelsmann Investments division bundles Bertelsmann’s startup investments. Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments is based in Gütersloh and since 2014 has concentrated mainly on the United States.[238][239] With Bertelsmann Asia Investments,[240] Bertelsmann Brazil Investments and Bertelsmann India Investments,[241] three additional funds exist that are active in the growth regions defined by the holding.[242] Bertelsmann Investments holds equity positions in a total of over 100 startup companies, almost all from the digital economy.[243] In 2021, sales reached €8 million.[200]

McPartland - Elma - Innovative Edge

Elma Music Foundation - School Music Program

Ties to Big Thought @ldaven

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Oh my @stephers.

As the Bertelsmann Stiftung itself has put it, the foundation promotes “reform processes” and “the principles of entrepreneurial activity” to build a “future-oriented society.”[9]

The Bertelsmann Stiftung examines at regular intervals how much the Germany’s states are investing in early childhood education and care. One of its studies confirmed, for instance, that children’s developmental opportunities depend heavily on their background.[91][92] In the field of school education, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has been devoting itself in recent years to all-day schools in particular and has called for their expansion.[93][94] Digital learning is also an important issue,[95] as it is seen as a solution to various structural problems in the area of education.[96] In addition, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has also been involved for years in vocational education and training.[97]

In 2012, Josef Kraus, president of the German Teachers’ Association [de], spoke critically about the influence of the Bertelsmann Stiftung on education policy. He described its studies as “unscientific” and as “scare tactics.” Its activities almost always involved turning some alleged administrative failure into a scandal, Kraus said. He called on politicians to stop allowing themselves to be influenced by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and to take criticism of the foundation seriously.[174]

The non-profit organization Lobbycontrol sees the Bertelsmann Stiftung as a business-oriented initiative, similar to the “Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft” (Initiative for a New Social Market Economy) or the “Stiftung Marktwirtschaft” (Free Market Foundation).[175] Lobbycontrol criticizes, for example, the “Standortcheck” (Business Location Check), which it says amounts to a canonical neoliberal reform.[176]

In 2007, the trade union ver.di terminated its cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung. The reason was that Arvato, a division of the Bertelsmann Group, declared the privatization of public services a strategic business area.[191]

# Bertelsmann Stiftung

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On Bertelsmann . . . SO much can be said . . . In fact, there was so much material that I simply placed it aside.

@AMcD In particular, see Phineo and Loom Impact below (RE: social impact investing; molecular biologist Andreas Rickert***) . . .

My general takeaways . . . What I found most important is their work in social impact investment initiatives, and what I considered intriguing is their well-established (and eventually exposed) Nazi/Third Reich/SS historical connections. It is interesting that they purchased CDNow – a company run by twin brothers who are Jewish, with parents who have Zionist connections. Despite being a small monetary amount, Arline Gross Olim (mother of twins Jason and Matthew) is on the donor honor roll of this Zionist organization, which just happens to be supported by Claims Conference – The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany:


Returning to Bertelsmann (starting with the Bertelsmann/Mohn family) . . .

Carl Bertelsmann, a printer and bookbinder, founded C. Bertelsmann Verlag in 1835. The founder’s son Heinrich Bertelsmann, and the latter’s son-in-law Johannes Mohn, continued to lead the company in the traditional spirit.


Heinrich Mohn takes over the publishing house

Heinrich Mohn leads the publishing house through inflation and modernizes its structure and program

Heinrich Mohn (1885-1955) takes charge in 1921, representing the fourth generation of the family business, and modernizes the publisher, which at the time had 84 employees. The company increasingly relies on its close cooperation with Protestant societies and organizations for sales. The hyperinflation of 1923 brings heavy losses for Bertelsmann, and many jobs are lost. Heinrich Mohn manages to consolidate the increasingly difficult theological publishing business by the end of the 1920s. The high-circulation magazines by the cleric Johannes Zauleck (1849-1917) in particular help to ensure the publisher’s survival during the global economic slump. His periodicals “Für unsere Kinder” (For Our Children), “Für alte Augen” (For Aging Eyes) and the brochure “Acht Seiten Freude zu bereiten” (Eight Pages of Giving Joy), are designed for hands-on parish work and reach an audience of millions.

Historians hired by Bertelsmann have revealed that the firm — which had painted itself as an opponent of the Nazis — was actually the largest producer of books and propaganda for the German army during World War II.

The material was produced under the supervision of Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels.

The research team, led by historian Saul Friedlander of the University of California at Los Angeles, also found that Bertelsmann’s wartime chief, Heinrich Mohn, donated heavily to the Nazi SS.

He was a “contributing member,” said the historians, adding that Mohn’s reasons for doing this may become clear as research continues.

The historical commission was created in 1999 by Middelhoff, after several news articles had suggested Mohn’s SS connections.

According to the historical commission, the firm, already known in the 1920s as a conservative and often anti-Semitic publisher, produced more than 20 million books and other materials for German soldiers during the war.

Of the 130 publishing companies that profited from doing business with the Nazi regime, Bertelsmann ranked No. 1 — ahead even of the official publisher of the Nazi Party, the Eher-Verlag., the commission found.

After the war, Heinrich Mohn’s son, Reinhard, returned to Germany from an American POW camp. He revived the firm and turned it into a successful business based on American models of free enterprise, said theologian Trutz Rendtorff, a member of the independent commission and a professor emeritus at the University of Munich.

1835-1945 [Back to Top]

1835 Carl Bertelsmann began as a publisher of hymn books and devotional pamphlets in Pietist eastern Westphalia, Germany.
1848 Carl Bertelsmann, a conservative supports the Prussian king in the war.
1850 Carl Bertlesman dies
1850 Heinrich Bertelsmann takes over the company. His philosophy of management includes acquisitionof publication houses that are not successful.
1853 Bertelsmann publishes the Missionsharfe (Missionary Harp) hymn book, a bestseller.
1881 Friederike Bertelsmann marries Johannes Mohn.
1887 Heinrick Bertelsman dies and the company passes to his son-in-law Johannes Mohn.
1921 Heinrich Mohn takes over the business.
1925 Bennett Cerf and Donald S. Klopfer acquire Modern Library from Boni and Liveright, a New York firm, for $215,000.
1927 Cerf and Klopfer name their joint publishing venture Random House.
1930s Random House publishes Eugene O’Neill, James Joyce (not without controversy), Robinson Jeffers, Isak Dinesen, William Faulkner, Edgar Snow, and Jean de Brunhoff, among others.
1930-1945 Heinrich Mohn maintains close ties to the Bekonnende Kirkche, which opposed Hitler. The company was closed in 1944 because it did not contribute to the war effort.

1947-1980 [Back to Top]

1947 Reinhard Mohn returns from a prisoner of war camp and takes the reins of the company…
1948 Reinhold Mohn forms the Bertelsmann book club (Lesering). These book clubs were a form of direct sales from publishers and were extremely successful.
1947 Random House publishes the American College Dictionary, the first in a long and prestigeous line of Random House dictionaries.
1957 Random House goes public.
1960 Random House acquires Alfred A. Knopf for $3 million.
1960 Random House acquires L.W. Singer, a textbook publisher.
1961 Random House purchases Pantheon Books and is faced with open protests from authors who fear that the publisher will merge the imprint with others.
1964 Bertelsmann purchases UFA (TV and film production company).
1965 Random House is purchased by Radio Corporation of America (RCA).
1971 Bennett Cerf dies.
1973 Bertelsmann sales read DM 1 billion.
1973 Random House acquires Ballantine Books
1976 Bertelsmann purchases Gruner + Jahr (magazine publishers), continuing Mohn’s practice of puchasing firms which could be purchased cheaply because of problems in the business, placing trusted colleagues in leading posts, and leaving them to turn the company around.
1977 Bertelsmann purchase a 51% interest in Bantam Books.
1980 Random House is acquired by Advance Publications and becomes part of the Newhouse family’s media empire.

1981-1995 [Back to Top]

1981 Reinhard Mohn retires and becomes charman of the supervisory board.
1981 Bertelsmann completes the purchase of Bantam Books.
1982 Random House purchases Fawcett Books.
1984 Random House Purchases Times Books.
1985-86 Bertelsmann acquires Doubleday-Dell and RCA Records (later merged into the BMG, Bertelsmann Music Group)for an estimated $800 million.
1986 Random House purchases Fodor’s Travel Guides.
1987 Random House purchases Chatto, Virago, Bodley Head & Jonathan Cape Ltd.
1988 Random House sells its college division to McGraw-Hill.
1988 Random House purchases Crown Publishing Company.
1993 Bertelsmann restructures into Books (Doubleday), Gruner + Jahr (magazines and newspapers), BMG Entertainment, and Bertelsmann Industry (printing, paper production, etc.) .
1995 In a series of acquisitions, Bertelsmann acquires several properties, including magazine from the New York Times Co., and the Italian music publisher Ricordi.
1995 Bertelsmann partners with American Online to set up online service in Germany.

1998-2003 [Back to Top]

1997 Random House UK acquires the adult trade division of Reed Books.
1998 Bertelsman acquires Random House (2002 sales $2.09 billion) for $1.4 billion and merges it with Bandom Doubleday Dell (BDD).
1999 Bertelsmann purchases a 50% stake in barnesand
1999 Bertelsmann acquires 85% of Springer Verlag, including its scientific journals.
2000 Bertelsmann sells its 50% interest in AOL back to Time Warner.
2003 Bertelsmann sells Bertelsmann Springer (2002 sales of $766 million) to Cinven and Candover, venture capitalist firms, for 1.05 billion euros. There were 40 bidders for this division.
2003 Barnes and Noble purchases Bertelsmann’s interest in for $164 million.
2003 Bertelsmann’s Random House division plans takeover of the Ulstein Heyne List (UHL), the book publishing division of Axel Springer. However, antitrust concerns by the German government have discouraged the original plan, and the company seems to be interest at this time in taking over only the Heyne Verlag portion of the division.

Stephan Vopel, the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s expert on Israel, believes that the main reasons for these discrepancies must be sought in the different security situations and political cultures of the two countries. In Vopel’s view, Israelis and Germans have drawn contradictory conclusions from history: "In Germany, the watchword is ‘No more war,’ while in Israel it is ‘No more victimization.’

Stephan Vopel (Bertelsmann Foundation Director):


Doing good and achieving the best – that’s PHINEO’s goal. PHINEO is a think tank, consultancy and social organization all in one.

PHINEO supports nonprofits, companies and philanthropists in achieving their goals more effectively and in making an impact through social engagement. Originally incubated at the Bertelsmann Stiftung and an independent entity for the last 10 years, the analytic and consulting organization accomplishes this in four ways:

  1. As an analytics specialist, PHINEO makes social impact visible.
  2. As a consultancy, PHINEO advises and networks nonprofits, foundations, businesses, government ministries and individuals. It thus makes projects possible that could not be realized by people working on their own.
  3. As a think tank, PHINEO combines innovation with activities that are tried and tested.
  4. As a visionary organization, PHINEO implements its own ideas – quickly and effectively.
    The Bertelsmann Stiftung is one of PHINEO’s shareholders, which allows for numerous mutually beneficial synergies.

@AMcD Heads up. At the 50 second timestamp (TED talk above) – Voronoi imprinting.

PHINEO, the German ‘NGO ratings agency’, was launched in 2010. It offers analysis of where best donors should grant their money in a hectic market of 550,000 NGOs in Germany. CEO of PHINEO Andreas Rickert took part in the Salzburg Global Seminar session ‘Value vs Profit: Recalculating Return on Investment in Social and Financial Terms’ in October 2012. After his presentation in the ‘Improving the Social Sector’ panel, SGS editor Louise Hallman sat down with him to find out what PHINEO is doing to bring about these improvements.

SGS: What exactly is PHINEO?
AR: PHINEO is a new organization. Some of you are familiar with New Philanthropy Capital in London – we basically took their approach and applied it to the German situation. So what we are doing is analysing social issues in Germany to figure out what is the role of the social sector and where are the funding gaps. We analyse in a very rigorous way non-profits in Germany to give donors information about where to get involved or where to give their money.

SGS: I see you have a PhD in molecular biology. How did you go from having a PhD in molecular biology to working in a sector like this? And how does your very multi-disciplinary background help you in your work?
AR: Well there is no specific knowledge I can use nowadays(!), but maybe it is quite helpful that due to my career and different path I have taken, I’m quite open-minded. And secondly, I see a huge benefit in the exchange between different sectors, so I don’t like thinking in silos. And as I’ve experienced that, I would hope the entire sector would experience that; we all benefit from more exchange between the social sector and the private sector and the government and so on. So there is more need for more exchange and I’ve found it personally very rewarding to have taken all these different steps – from academia with a PhD in molecular biology, going to McKinsey and working as a consultant for them for a couple of years, and then going into the foundation world.

Andreas Rickert is CEO of PHINEO. This is an edited version of the original interview first published on the SGS website.

LOOM Impact AG is a new type of impact finance boutique (in the mind of an investment bank), which has set itself the goal of closing the financial gap to achieve the SDGs. To this end, we structure & operate appropriate financial products for impact organizations & fund initiators and thus builds bridges to the global capital markets. In addition we run the LOOMPACT portal for KPI-based communication of the impact successes in order to achieve more visibility for impact investing.

Supervisory Board

The molecular biologist began his career in the private sector as a consultant at McKinsey and gained initial insights into the shaping of civil society as a director at the Bertelsmann Foundation and through his role as a consultant at the World Bank. In 2010, he founded PHINEO gAG – a non-profit analysis & consulting company for effective social impact, which he still leads as CEO. Due to his profound and long-standing knowledge in this field, Dr. Rickert also works in the Sustainability Council of the German Federal Government as well as various other supervisory, advisory and expert boards.