How much money is Tomorrow Focus putting into this venture, and how much capital is Huffington Post adding?

It is not a joint venture. In other countries [ed. note: and Hawaii] it has been a joint venture. But in Germany it is not a joint venture. We have founded a company that belongs 100 percent to Tomorrow Focus, and we have signed a long-term licensing agreement with The Huffington Post. It’s no joint venture. We aren’t going to comment about investment volumes.

What are your financial milestones? How will you define success?

We have two milestones that are important. The first is we want to have, within the next year and a half, roughly between 3 and 3.5 million unique users. And we want to be profitable within two years.

As for readership: We want in five years to be among the five largest German news outlets. In five years we want to have as many readers of Huffington Post as Focus Online (also owned by Tomorrow Focus), which has just about 10 million unique readers. Our goal is that Huffington Post Germany will also have reached that.

What makes you think you can be profitable within two years?

France started end-2011 and, by spring 2013, they had 3.5 million unique users. That’s the number we are going for. Italy has had a good start as well, but the country is smaller. I don’t know the exact numbers, but they are still going better than planned. Even in Spain, they are going better than planned. We were all very surprised, but from the beginning, every country has come in better than planned.

To what do you attribute those successes?

We visited our French colleagues in Paris. There was a very intensive exchange—we were there to learn from them and the feedback from France was, that it was a new portal. It was simply a new portal that brought fresh wind to the market. That was one point.

The other point is, the anchor personality in France, the editorial director, Anne Sinclair, the ex-wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Anne Sinclair brought a very strong presence to the portal. She also gave The Huffington Post very good publicity. That was a very important building block to success in France.

So are you going to do the same?

Yes, we are looking for the German Arianna Huffington. It can be a woman or a man. We are in the process of identifying who it will be. Italy and Spain also have anchor personalities as editorial director, a person who is well know from television, possibly had a talk show, or something along those lines.

 

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Alison Langley has more than 25 years experience in journalism as a reporter and editor. Her stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The FT and The Independent. She currently lectures in journalism at Fachhochschule Wien and Webster University Vienna.