Dutch Startup Blendle Formalizes U.S. Expansion Plans

Co-founder Martin Klöpping closes out Business Insider's two-day IGNITION conference.

BlendleBusiness Insider’s two-day IGNITION conference is ending this afternoon on a doubly synergistic note.

Following Gordon Crovitz’s 5:05 p.m. interview with Blendle co-founder Alexander Klöpping, there is a 5:20 p.m. mini-session featuring New York Times CEO Mark Thompson in conversation with The Harvard Business Review’s Adi Ignatius. The New York Times Co., along with Business Insider owner Axel Springer, is a founding investor in Blendle.

If you’ve not yet heard of Blendle, you will soon. Applying an iTunes approach to the consumption of digital newspaper content, the startup has gotten off to an impressive start in its home base of the Netherlands. More than half a million people there and Germany currently use the pay-per-article service, with Klöpping revealing at IGNITION that a U.S. beta version will launch early next year.

From the companion press release:

“Blendle will not release the list of publishers that will join us in the United States just yet,” said Klöpping. “Blendle started as a big experiment in Europe, but it’s working. We’ve proven that we can get young people to pay for high-quality journalism, as long as they don’t bump into paywalls or ads all the time, don’t have to register for every website, only have to pay for the articles they actually read and can get their money back if they don’t like a story.”

You read that last part right. In what amounts to one of the best 21st century votes yet for digitized print journalism, less than five percent of Blendle’s users have exercised that refund-request right. A large portion of the young staff in Amsterdam, now up to 75, spends its time curating and recommending newspaper content.

Klöpping founded the company two years ago with fellow journalist Marten Blankesteijn. Blendle officially launched in 2014.