Bertelsmann Investments Owns Stakes in 15 “Unicorns”
Over the course of the year, Bertelsmann Investments (BI) expanded its network of start-ups and funds to around 260 active holdings, with increasing involvement in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, big data and education. At year-end, the portfolio also comprised 15 young companies, each with a total valuation exceeding US$1 billion – known as “unicorns.” For example, the online fitness community Keep from China, which was founded in 2014 and has more than 300 million registered users, offers a fitness app with exercises that can be done at home, as well as sports fashion and smart devices. The company, in which Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) has a stake, experienced enormous popularity, especially during the lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The BI portfolio remains resilient worldwide, as numerous holdings focus on digital (i.e., coronavirus-compliant offerings and services). One of the stars in the Bertelsmann India Investments (BII) portfolio is Shiprocket, which offers corporate clients attractive solutions for the management of e-commerce and logistics.Keep Shiprocket
Online Learning was a Booming Business in 2020
Online education is the order of the day in 2020, fueling demand for digital education offerings around the world. BAI expanded its commitment in this area and made four new investments in various education service providers. Afya, a company in the Brazilian portfolio, further strengthened its position in the education sector by acquiring two software companies. In India, BII was pleased to welcome high-profile co-investors in the internationally acclaimed executive training provider Eruditus. Two prominent investors, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Naspers subsidiary Prosus, became shareholders because they, too, believe in the education provider’s future prospects.10 years Eruditus
Bertelsmann’s Content Businesses Cooperate with Start-Ups
Bertelsmann’s international network of funds serves both as a trend scout and a door opener. The start-ups’ new technologies and business models are often of interest to Group companies as well. At the interface, Bertelsmann Investments Digital Partners (BIDP) matches start-ups with specific business ideas with Bertelsmann portfolio companies.
For example, in 2020, Penguin Random House, with BIDP acting as intermediary, signed a partnership with BAI’s Shanghai-based education portfolio company Jiliguala. Together, Penguin Random House and Jiliguala are developing a product that uses AI to create a personalized learning experience. Another AI collaboration was signed between Fremantle and the Stockholm-based start-up SNAFU Records. Based on algorithms, they identified new talent for Fremantle’s production of “American Idol.”