Danish entrepreneur turned investor turned local media mogul Morten Lund has founded or co-invested in more than 40 high-tech start ups in the last decade, most famously Skype, which was snapped up by eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005. In May 2008 Lund made headlines again with the sale of Danish social networking and mobile backup site ZYB to operator Vodafone Europe for a sum believed to be in the region of $49m.
But another venture of his, a free daily newspaper owned by his startup catalyst LundXY- Global Ventures, wasn’t meant to be a big hit. Nyhedsavisen, as the publication was called, closed last month with a reported deficit of approximately $100 million, admittedly generated mostly under the previous ownership.
Lund is now suffering significant personal and professional financial trouble because of Nyhedsavisen’s death, although he’s evidently bound to bounce back on his feet some time. No motivational speech necessary there.
Critics have pointed out that Nyhedsavisen suffered with funding issues from the outset, when it was revealed to have posted total losses of DKK 426m ($89.7m / € 57m) on its accounts for 2007. However, under his stewardship it officially claimed the position of most widely read newspaper in Denmark, with a daily circulation of 551,000. On July 30th 2008, American venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) reportedly invested a significant but undisclosed sum in the newspaper, enabling Lund to increase his stake in Nyhedsavisen from 51 to 85 per cent, until it was eventually closed down in late August 2008. There is some doubt if DFJ actually ever made the investment (see comment below).
Lund’s directness has always been refreshing; check out the ‘Stupid‘ section on his blog to get an idea of just how honest he is. But his blog post about what happened with the newspaper, in which he lists 5 reasons for failing to survive, is worth a read too.
I’ll share the special note at the end as a teaser:
“Call me stupid – not trustworthy – whatever – it’s OK – I fucked up. I take all responsibility. It was MY MONEY (and all I had and had access too) – and it will be 18-24 months in hell from here – but I will start and invest with my knowledge and build companies for life – and I’m scared but not stopping – Im just back to ventures without money. Sorry.”
Takes a man with balls to write this up.