Television

Bertelsmann launches intl VC fund focussed on digital media

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MUMBAI: Global media firm Bertelsmann has established a venture capital fund called Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) and a Luxembourg company to execute and house the BDMI investments.

The fund is designed to ensure direct access to emerging technologies and businesses. With an initial funding of ?50 million, BDMI?s mission is to tap into new technologies and digital media innovations to support the continued leadership of Bertelsmann?s divisions across the media landscape.

Richard Sarnoff, who has been President of Random House's corporate development group and its venture arm, Random House Ventures LLC, additionally has been named President of BDMI, and will report to Bertelsmann CFO Thomas Rabe in this capacity.

BDMI?s international team based in the US and Germany will concentrate on digital media opportunities that can enhance or extend Bertelsmann?s existing strengths in broadcast television, book and magazine publishing, music, media services, and direct marketing. Investments will primarily be minority stakes in early-stage companies, but can also include majority stakes and external fund investments where appropriate.

Bertelsmann chairman and CEO Gunter Thielen says, ?Bertelsmann has a keen focus on new technologies and fosters expertise within each of its divisions. We are committed to further extending our innovative spirit and media leadership by creating a fund dedicated to emerging technology opportunities.

"Richard Sarnoff is the ideal candidate for this assignment, since he has excellent experience in funding such opportunities, strong connections in the venture capital industry, and broad familiarity with all of Bertelsmann's businesses above and beyond his responsibilities at Random House?.

Sarnoff said, ?Technology continues to play an increasing role in all Bertelsmann divisions as digital media, the Web, and mobile access continue to converge on a global scale. This new fund will allow us to supplement the existing in-house knowledge base and support ongoing divisional technology initiatives through investments in pioneering companies?.

BDMI will operate in partnership with each Bertelsmann business division, taking investment cues from new business models and digital media trends identified by the divisions as strategic to future growth. It will work with the appropriate Bertelsmann division on each investment for initial evaluation, due diligence and ongoing oversight of portfolio companies.

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