What is the relationship between Springer Nature & Frontiers?

Frontiers Research Foundation Logo
Frontiers Research Foundation Logo, taken from: https://www.frontiersin.org/

In preparation for a presentation at the Open Access Days in Dresden, I collect information on the shares of commercial publishers in the APC-based Open Access business.

When I deal with this topic, I always stumble upon the publisher Frontiers:

  • Back in 2013 Nature reported „Nature Publishing Group buys into open-access publisher“ and noted: „the company [Nature Publishing Group] said it was taking a majority investment“.
  • Wikipedia tells us: „The investment spurred collaboration with Nature Publishing Group, such as the integration of Loop profiles into Nature journals on nature.com, as well as collaboration with other Holtzbrinck companies such as the Frontiers for Young Minds blog on Scientific American. Though Holtzbrinck still has a minority share in Frontiers, the two companies operate independently, and in 2014, the two groups „made the decision … to make a clean separation and never to mention again that [Nature Publishing Group] has some kind of involvement in Frontiers.“ Nevertheless, Wikipedia identifies the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group as the Frontiers Group’s parent company. Springer Nature in turn is the product of the merger of Springer Science+Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education.
  • As Leonid Schneider points out in 2015: „The current administrative board of Frontiers lists as signatory Michael Brockhaus, Head of Group Strategy at the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.“ Meanwhile Mister Brockhaus left the board.

To be honest, the relationship between Frontiers and Springer Nature is somewhat unclear to me: Is Springer Nature holding shares in Frontiers (if so, to what extent?), is it only a strategic alliance, does Springer Nature only use Frontier’s services for a fee?

I would be very grateful for information and feedback by the readers of my blog!

Update: Leonid Schneider drew my attention to Richard Poynder’s interview with Kamila Markram, CEO and Co-Founder of Frontiers, in 2016.

11 Gedanken zu „What is the relationship between Springer Nature & Frontiers?

  1. SpringerNature is part of the Holtzbrinck-group, as we know. The latest annual report of Holtzbrinck-group from 2015 states an ownership of 30% on Frontiers (this is a minority stake; see Unternehmensregister). This stake could propably still be held by Macmillan Group (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/05/open-access-publisher-sacks-31-editors-amid-fierce-row-over-independence or https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2015/01/20/macmillan-springer-some-lessons-to-learn-some-twists-to-watch/) which is also part of Holzbrinck Group and potentially owner of the minority stake on Frontiers. This relationship and ownership are still unclear. But this will ligthenup when the next annual report of Holtzbrick-Group is published, IMO.
    I hardly see any other (and easy) ways to check this realtionship by research in databases because Holtzbrinck Group is in private ownership which is not forced to publish annual reports and business statements like public listed companies. This makes it so hard to find out. And there are no official press releases wether by Holtzbrinck Group nor from Macmillian, which could have be of help.

  2. The referenced announcement has been published on 01.02.2013 by the lawyers who advaocated this investment. In respect to the current annual report of Holtzbrinck-group this announcement shows that there is still a minority stake of 30%. Meaning: There is an investment in and no take over of Frontiers by Holtzbrinck-group.
    Additional research in press releases prove (close to certainty) that the minority stake is still valid. The only thing in this relation is that Frontier stopped using SpringerNature signs for correspondences and other related issues.

  3. „The Holtzbrinck Group, owner of Nature Publishing Group (NPG), acquires an interest in Frontiers. While generally operating as an independent business and publisher, Frontiers now collaborates with Holtzbrinck businesses including NPG on key initiatives to advance the cause of Open Science for the benefit of both the research community and the broader public“ on https://www.frontiersin.org/about/history.

    A Holtzbrinck society is at the address of a investement company called Linfield Trust Company AG,
    Splügenstrasse 10, 8002 Zürich: https://www.moneyhouse.ch/fr/company/holtzbrinck-schweiz-ag-11124220041#

    In 2014, the signature of Michael Brockhaus was revoked for Holtzbrinck Schweiz AG c/o Linfield Trust Company AG, Splügenstrasse 10, 8002 Zürich: http://www.moneyhouse.ch/en/p/Michael-Brockhaus

    But Mr. Michael Brockhaus is still Member of the Executive Board, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelbrockhausvgvh/?locale=de_DE

    And Mr Michael Brockhaus is still a board director member of Frontiers S.A: https://www.moneyhouse.ch/en/company/frontiers-media-sa-3399742581/management?page=0

    I do not know what it means. Does anyone can interpret these facts?

  4. Thanks Sylvie! What about CVC Capital Partners? They are on board, hold signature right.
    I wonder if Markrams actually own anything? can their employer EPFL be a silent investor? That is just a speculation of course.

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