German publisher Axel Springer SE is reportedly nearing an agreement to buy Henry Blodget's Business Insider for about $560 million, or 500 million euros, Re/code reported Tuesday. That would be a significantly bigger move for the Berlin publishing giant than simply buying a controlling stake in the site, something that German Manager Magazin reported Springer was considering last week.
"We generally do not comment on market speculations," a Springer representative told International Business Times. Neither Blodget nor a representative for Business Insider responded to requests for comment.
The move would be the latest in a series of big deals in the digital media world, fueling speculation of a bubble. AOL paid $315 million for the Huffington Post in 2011, while last month NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast, poured $200 million into both BuzzFeed and Vox. (By comparison, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid $250 million for the Washington Post in 2013.) Business Insider employees own shares in the company's stock.
Blodget swatted down talk of selling his site in 2013, after a speculative column by media critic Michael Wolff.
"[B]ottom line, we don't feel any great desire to sell," he wrote at the time. "We would never say never, of course. There are many benefits to consolidation and scale in media, and I fully expect the digital media industry to consolidate. At some point, we will probably either help consolidate the industry or be consolidated. But I honestly don't know when or which."
Blodget noted he certainly wouldn't sell BI for anything like $100 million, a price he had in mind in the early years of starting the site. "I used to tell people that our goal was to build a great publication and then sell it to Rupert Murdoch for ... $100 million."
Re/code put Business Insider's revenue at $20 million in 2013, and estimated it to be around $34 million last year.