An Old-Media Empire, Axel Springer Reboots for the Digital Age

When Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, and a handful of his top managers first set their sights on the United States three years ago, it was with notebooks in hand, rather than checkbooks.


A decade after taking the helm in 2002, Mr. Döpfner had already made significant strides in revamping Germany’s largest print publishing group for the digital age. The combined online audience of its flagship newspapers, Bild and Die Welt, had become one of the largest in Europe, and the group was investing heavily in digital companies, which were generating an increasing share of revenues and profits.

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