by Michelle Widmer
It was a show you can imagine set in Silicon Valley. Dim lights, loud music, countdown showing the last minutes until the beginning. About 300 of about 6,400 employees in 19 countries accepted the invitation to attend the employee event at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. The rest had the opportunity to follow the event online. The music gets more exciting as the countdown ends. Instead of Mark Walder personally on stage, his avatar appears on screen and greets viewers on site and online. In this event, the avatar symbolizes the hub of the event: the metaverse. The jump there is the next big step, according to the CEO.
“Hey who I am,” Walder says and walks up to the stage. He jokes about his avatar: “Avatars often look different and smaller than real people. Both apply to my case.”
73% of digital businesses
After the salutation, Ms. Ringier CFO Annabella Bassler – or rather her avatar – took the floor. Annual result is shown for 2021. It’s a record year because the result has never been better since Ringier committed himself to digital transformation in 2008. Operating profit from depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) has risen from CHF 84.4 million in the past 123.7 million francs this year. Sales increased last year from 953.7 million Swiss francs to 965.3 million Swiss francs. However, Ringier has not yet reached the pre-corona level. In 2019, sales amounted to 984.8 million.
An important figure for Mark Walder, as he later emphasized in the background discussion with various journalists, remains the profit share of the digital business. 73 percent This value was last year. all about He adds that 70 percent is very good.
Investments in sports media
Finally, Annabella Basler handed over responsibility to the real Mark Walder in the Chipperfield Building in Zurich. Looking ahead, introduce Ringier’s next big thing to the workforce. The media company Ringier Sports Media was established in Zuffingen as a third strategic pillar alongside Ringier Media and Ringier Marketplaces. Stilian Shishkov, founder and CEO of Sport Media Group in Bulgaria, will be globally responsible for the further development of sports media. Robin Laing will be chairman, Mark Walder, Ladina Heimgartner, Annabella Bassler, and Kofed, Alexander Theobald will be on the board.
The new company will operate internationally, initially in markets where Ringier is not yet present. “There is a risk that our news headlines will be dismantled with the Sport Vertical,” Walder explains in a background discussion at the Kunsthaus in the afternoon. In Switzerland, Ringier first wants to strengthen the entire ecosystem in the sports sector. The CEO sees a lot of potential here.
First GL meeting in Metavese
Mark Walder also sees a lot of potential in the Metaverse, as he mentioned several times that day. At The Speak, the CEO encourages employees to gain initial experience in order to be able to prepare for the future. For example, the CEO plays the dial-tones heard in the 1990s when connected to the Internet. He says, “This is where we are today in terms of the Metaverse.” What will happen here in the next few years is “very relevant” – especially for a media company.
Walder talks excitedly about Ringier’s first management meeting in the Metaverse (see photo above). It’s about knowing how such a meeting feels, how you hear, and how you speak. He did not mention specific projects. Ringier’s presence would be appropriate for real estate platforms, for example. An advertised apartment can be seen on the Metaverse, for example. The gaze, in turn, will be seen and consumed in the digital world.
For publisher Michael Ringer, avatars of the Metaverse are still “fairly childish figurines,” he says on stage in an interview with Steffi Buchli, Blick Sport Editor-in-Chief. He can’t imagine if that was really successful, but he’s happy to be convinced otherwise.