Hyper and Mic: A cross-border acquisition

Hyper Founder Team (vlnr Jonas Brandau, Mathias Sauvestre, Markus Gilles, Andreas Pursian)
Hyper Founder Team (vlnr Jonas Brandau, Mathias Sauvestre, Markus Gilles, Andreas Pursian)

Hyper is a Berlin-based start-up that curates a daily video feed for your iPad. Mic is a NY-based media outlet with a huge following. Both companies share the belief that millennials are inquisitive, have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom, and crave substantive news. This past month Hyper was acquired by Mic.

We sat down to talk with Markus Gilles, cofounder of Hyper, about his company, its cross-border partnership with Mic and what’s next.

Hyper: A new approach to video content

Hyper has ten team members devoted to providing the “best of the newest” in video. “Our backgrounds are in tech and filmmaking,” Gilles says. “This provides us with a certain approach, looking at how video is dealt with in mobile apps.” When they started, the team felt “no one had it right. We didn’t feel that there was any video app out there that we would feel delighted by”. And so came Hyper.

The idea? “There is an abundance of content. Abundance has become the problem,” he says. Hyper looks for well-produced, quality videos and carefully selects great content. “We believe the future of media is in identifying quality and amplifying it.”

And this approach seems to be working. The app is rated 5-stars on the app store and has a high retention rate of users accessing the daily feed, which reads like a modern magazine edition.

The Acquisition

Hyper was launched worldwide in August 2015. The time from prototyping to launch to acquisition was very quick but as Mic describes it: “it was like a puzzle piece.”

Hyper’s focus has always been on American content and as Gilles says, “Mic is one of the most relevant young media companies in New York.”

After beginning to feature many Mic videos, they realized the two companies could achieve greater things together. Mic has reach in the US market. Hyper has a product savvyness that Mic was seeking.

The early proposition of acquisition “fit extremely well into our roadmap,” he says. For all start-ups, Gilles says the most important thing (when considering acquisition) is timing. “In each case it means something different.”

Furthermore, he says it’s especially important the goals of two companies are similar. “We are thinking about content similarly and what is needed for our generation. Chris (founder of Mic) and I felt there was a need for good journalistic quality” and both companies aim to provide it to a similar target market. The companies also disagree that readers are satisfied living in the ‘Buzzfeed’ generation and instead look for thought provoking media addressed to an intelligent and engaged audience.

“We believe the future of media is in identifying quality and amplifying it.”

Being Berlin-based

Hyper will continue to be based in Berlin. Gilles was candid when asked about choosing to remain in Europe. “For us, we felt Berlin was the place we wanted to live our lives. At the end of the day, it is also a question of your personal life,” he says.

That said, Hyper has “always contemplated having part of their operation in the US.” Gilles advice is, if you want a global market, to “think about whether you want to start there right away.” He says, “There are few hurdles to entering the US market directly. It might be a short-cut to where you ultimately want to go, especially with digital businesses.”

For Mic, Hyper’s being from Berlin was also a strategic move. They already have a worldwide team and have been thinking of expanding internationally, so acquiring a German start-up fit their plans. Furthermore, Mic has a German readership, while Germany is the third-largest user base of Hyper.

What’s next?

With the partnership, they expect to continue generating their loyal user-base. Hyper is currently only available for iPads in the Apple store however, “We have things in the pipeline for OTT and mobile,” he says.

Hyper also has plans to customize the daily editions depending on users’ preferences. More content will be available, though still highly curated.

Thank you for meeting with us, Hyper! We wish you the best of luck.