Alexander Klöpping turned up to his first meeting at the New York Times late, alone, and not entirely sure why he had been summoned to a conference room with a dozen newspaper executives.
It was March 2014, still weeks before he and his co-founder Marten Blankesteijn would launch Blendle, a Dutch technology platform that aspires to do for newspapers and magazines what Apple’s iTunes did for music: encourage a generation of young Internet users to pay for journalism online.
The backpack-wearing Dutch entrepreneur may have been awestruck and unprepared, but he made a strong impression. The Times offered to invest in his fledgling company, which gives users a mechanism to buy individual newspaper and magazine articles online for a small, one-off fee.
Less than two years later, after debuting in the Netherlands and Germany, Blendle is on the verge of importing its iTunes-style micropayment model to the U.S.. If it works, it will add a new and potentially rich seam for a publishing industry that is desperately searching for more ways to generate revenue online as their traditional print income collapses.
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