By Tracey Cheek
The CEO of The Next Web, a European tech news and events company, is looking to its acquisition by The Financial Times this week to jump-start what it hopes will be an explosive expansion of its global reach.
The Financial Times announced on Tuesday that it had taken a controlling stake in the Amsterdam-based company, which it said in a statement "will deepen the FT's reach into the European technology community and create synergies with its existing events business, FT Live."
The Next Web, or TNW, began looking for a strategic partner about two years ago, according to the CEO, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. He said it wasn't long before talks began with The Financial Times, which he said had the name recognition and business connections the company was looking for in a partner.
"It's a name that you don't have to explain, their vision for the future is very interesting," said Veldhuijzen van Zanten. "I really want to go from 20 million people knowing us to maybe 600 million people knowing us, and then they can all decide whether they want to read us or not, come to our conferences or not, use our other services, but at least I want them to know us and I think this partnership is going to help there."
He noted, however, that the new ownership won't change the DNA of the company, the site, or its popular tech conference. "I don't think we're going to change anything that makes us unique," he said.
Veldhuijzen van Zanten is relieved that the cat is finally out of the bag on the news of the acquisition.
"Funny thing is I still have trouble mentioning the name because that was a secret I had to keep for for like two years," he said.
The Next Web got its start in 2006 before transforming into a news outlet and events business covering the latest in the tech industry. The CEO said the company's digital startup roots have helped it succeed in the competitive media landscape.
"We were not a media company that had to make the switch to digital," explained Veldhuijzen van Zanten. "We were a digital company, a startup, that changed to media, so from the beginning we like digital. For a lot of media companies, it's a necessary evil ー for us it's a warm bath."
The media landscape has been roiled in recent years and 2019 kicked off with a major wave of industry layoffs. Veldhuijzen van Zanten told Cheddar that he is not worried that his business will suffer the same fate, thanks to its digital-savvy and diversified revenue model.
"This is an area where lots of changes are happening, the business models are unclear, he said. "I'm happy to report that we've been profitable for a while."
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