When telling the story to ScandAsia about Lifestyle Asia co-founder Richard Nilsson indicated that they would not be independent forever.
After celebrating 10 years in business in 2016 the announcement came in January 2017 that Burda International had acquired LifestyleAsia.com – Asia’s premier online luxury and lifestyle magazine, started by three Swedes in Hong Kong.
Burda International that bought Lifestyle Asia (LSA) via Burda International Asia, is owned 100% by non-listed Hubert Burda Media, one of Germany’s and the world’s largest media conglomerate. Burda owns 540 magazine worldwide with over 10,000 employees.
Lifestyle Asia (LSA) has thereby become part of a new strategic group of brands, including Prestige, Augustman and Pin Prestige that form the “leading digital and print luxury content platform in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong”.
“The acquisition of LifestyleAsia.com is a major step forward in our plan to become the undisputed leader within innovative luxury content marketing and publishing in Asia. I am very happy that we could conclude this deal. I have never seen so many synergies combining two businesses. This will dramatically enhance our capabilities to provide best-in-class solutions to our clients. It is only the first step – there will be more announcements over the next six months,” said Friedrich von Scanzoni, CEO of Burda International Asia.
The three founders of Lifestyle Asia – Christopher Lindvall, Richard Nilsson and Sebastian Svensson – have become part of Burda International Asia’s regional management team and will jointly run the digital initiatives with Burda´s Melvin Ang, Managing Director South East Asia.
“It is going to be fantastic to work together with Melvin Ang and the experienced Burda teams in the region to enhance the existing portfolio, create new products and expand into new markets,” said Richard Nilsson, co-founder and Managing Director of LSA.
“We, the founders of LifestyleAsia.com, will drive their digital investments and new projects onwards. Our own staff will continue running LifestyleAsia.com and take it to new heights through Burda’s infrastructure,” Richard Nilsson tells ScandAsia.
It has been a long journey since the Swedes in 2007 landed their first 1 million Hong Kong dollars in investment for their online platform for luxurious lifestyle.
“It took ten years to build a good company – that’s what it takes, they say.”
He says that Burda came with the best offer on the table.
“We have celebrated a bit in the quiet. The deal took a long time and was worked out over a few years. In 2016 it took the whole year to work out the deal and on 7 December 2016 the agreements were signed in Hong Kong after much delay. The deal had not been done unless we had felt it was the right moment and an offer we could accept. Everyone is happy, including our investors, who are, among others, the businessman Anders Lönnquist and Frank Bonn via Servisen Investment Management and Nuevago Capital. Alexandre Dreyfus, a French online poker entrepreneur, who founded the Chili Gaming etc. is also among our previous investors.”
LSA primarily has a customer base among mobile savvy individuals whom seek out the latest trends and information with a particular interest in luxury – watches, jewellery, cars, fashion, wine & dine, travel, beauty and events across Asia’s lifestyle destinations.
Only in the last three years the market has really turned ripe for LSA and since then they began rebranding themselves to be more luxury and less lifestyle in 2013.
In 2016 the Swedes also launched their new state-of-the art website, featuring completely new banner formats to excite their advertisers.
“We have a completely new fashion spread, a ‘look book’, where we believe that a lot of the shopping will happen onwards. We will partner with e-commerce companies where we function as a shop window and a drop-shipping model for e-commerce where they manage the delivery of product and we only take commission. We will do the same with restaurant bookings etc. So the plan is really that LifestyleAsia.com will be a one-stop shop with the vision that everything you can read about on LSA should be able to be purchased via a click.”
The new website differentiates from what is on online in Asia within our segment concerning among other things:
- Infinite-scroll, that the site loades new articles when you “scroll down”, like on Vogue
- A new, simpler menu, where you can easily find what you need
- An “internal instant search” feature where you can search and get direct hits on all content that exists in the archives
- A responsive solution where the design is applied to mobile first and foremost, but also on tables and ordinary computers
- We work with Parsley, being first with this Recommendation service that helps readers find more related material to what they’re reading now
- Brand new ad formats that are up to 8 times larger
- Whole new image format with a focus on larger, faster video player and better presentation of galleries and articles
- Brand new City Guide through our Hot10 section
“We are working to get the integration with Burda. We have moved into their offices in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur,” Richard comments on the work agenda for 2017.
“The next step will be to further develop all digital titles to ‘must-advertise’ titles to advertisers and ‘must-read’ titles to readers. As always, we work daily to format the reader experience and all that have to do with it.”
“When we feel that we are satisfied with existing products, said the plan is to expand the LSA to Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Perhaps even Taiwan and China. There are a variety of ideas for new titles that we want to create, and e-commerce as we now have a much larger readership.”