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A German Publisher Is Winning the Internet

The owner of Bild newspaper — Europe's largest — made a digital bet that's paying off handsomely.

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Weaving past workers in orange vests and hard hats, Mathias Doepfner struts through what looks like a giant steel-and-concrete bird’s nest in central Berlin, which will become the digital headquarters of German publishing house Axel Springer SE. The building, designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaas and set to open in 2020, is at the heart of a bold bet on a future that has eluded many publishing bosses before him.

Doepfner, Springer’s chief executive officer, envisions a high-tech hub of online brands that will ensure the company’s prosperity and help realize his own corporate construction project: Turning Springer into the world’s most successful digital publisher.