May 8, 2023

German startup Blinkist acquired by Australian content company Go1

"This isn't a downturn story or a race for survival"

Kabir Agarwal

3 min read

Berlin-based startup Blinkist, which offers quick summaries of non-fiction books, has been acquired by Australian content aggregator and curator Go1.

Both companies have declined to comment on the financials involved in the deal, saying only that the combined valuation of the two will be “well above $2bn”.

When Go1 raised its Series E in June last year, it was valued at over $2bn. When Blinkist last raised in 2018, its valuation was $110m.


It’s been cash flow positive since 2019 and so hasn’t needed to raise since then, says Jonathan Becker, general partner at Headline, one of Blinkist’s investors since 2016.

“This isn't a downturn story or a race for survival. Quite the opposite: in the often tumultuous world of venture, Holger [Holger Seim, Blinkist’s cofounder and CEO] and his team built steadily, without chasing trends,” says Becker.  

What does Blinkist do?

Blinkist was launched in 2012 by Seim, Niklas Jansen and Tobias Balling. They wanted to help people who were hungry to learn but increasingly crunched for time in the new information age to scratch that itch. Their solution: summaries of books that took no more than fifteen minutes to read, available in both text and audio form.

Although the uptake was slow and the early months difficult, the Blinkist app has now been downloaded 26m times. It includes summaries of 5,500 non-fiction books and adds about 60 books per month. Some of the most popular categories include “career and success”, “personal development”, “productivity” and “management and leadership.”

Blinkist’s appeal in those categories made it especially enticing to Go1.

“The combination of Go1 and Blinkist offers something not replicated in any corner of the corporate learning market: an experience of ongoing learning that serves professional goals that’s purpose-built to be personally engaging,” says Andrew Barnes, co-CEO of Go1.

150 of Blinkist’s titles have been a part of Go1’s offerings since the two companies started working together three years ago. Seim tells Sifted the two companies had several casual conversations about a potential acquisition in the last couple of years.

“Eventually last year, this became a little more serious. We met in person for the first time and did a workshop on what this could look like, how we think about synergies, how we think about a vision for a combined company, etc, etc,” says Seim.

After the workshops and the meetings, Seim felt there was enough “chemistry” and “shared vision” for the two companies to come together.

What does the future look like?

The Blinkist product and brand, Seim says, will remain as it is with the Blinkist team focusing on growing the number of available titles.

“We will also leverage some of Go1’s content from partners. And Go1 will obviously leverage our content within their ecosystem and our capabilities around building great products,” says Seim. “There are a lot of ideas. We have a lot that needs to be explored in the next month and years. And yeah, I'm excited for that journey.” 


Seim also believes that the use of AI will be crucial to the business — and most businesses — in the next few years. Blinkist has already been exploring the use of AI to generate more content while keeping costs low.

But it’s found that while the text-to-speech capabilities of AI are very good, they don’t yet provide the same experience that a human voice can. “If you listen to me in an AI-generated voice for a couple of minutes, something is missing and you will feel it,” Seim says.

“AI is helpful but it’s not the saviour or not the disruptor that will put all of our editors out of jobs."