Blendle launched its service in April 2014 in the Netherlands and now has more than 300,000 registered users, up from 130,000 last October. On the publishers side, it has signed up a total of 18 daily newspapers and 15 weeklies from 14 publishing houses — with two operational markets (Holland and Germany), and English-speaking media in the U.S. next on its hit-list.
The Blendle marketplace works by taking micro-payments from readers to access individual articles. The exact per article cost is set by publishers, while users top up their accounts with a set amount of their own choosing (such as 10 or 20 euros) and can then spend it as they please — reading articles from whichever publications and publishers they fancy. The site also allows readers to get refunds if they think an article didn’t merit the 20 euro cents (on average) they paid for it.
The startup raised a $3.8m Series A funding round last fall, from the digital investment arm of European publishing giant Axel Springer, and the New York Times Company. Axel Springer publishes several of the German titles Blendle has just signed up, of course, underlining the strategic value of choosing the right investor. Back in March Blendle also signed up the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — albeit at the time only pushing that U.S. content to its sole operational market, the Netherlands.
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