BurdaInternational
10/03/2020

Mastermind and publisher extraordinaire: Hubert Burda celebrates 80th birthday

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A digital mastermind, art historian, entrepreneur, publisher and visionary, his creative drive has made Hubert Burda Media one of Europe's standout and most modern media players.

At the age of 26, Hubert Burda joined his father’s publishing house in Offenburg, becoming editor-in-chief of the people magazine Bunte ten years later. Under his aegis as sole shareholder and Chairman of the Board, a position he assumed in 1987, Burda Verlag underwent a dramatic transformation. Thanks to Hubert Burda’s innovative ideas, expansion strategy, and entrepreneurial instincts, the magazine publisher grew into a media and tech company, the family business into a group with global reach.

Above all his prescient awareness of digital trends has played a significant role in his company’s success. Hubert Burda was one of the first to recognize the potential of the electronic media: as early as 1995, he took the first step toward digitalization by creating an online news platform.

However, he faced setbacks in his personal life. In 2001, his son from his first marriage Felix Burda-Stengel died of colon cancer at the age of just 33. Together with Felix’s mother, Christa Maar, he then founded the Felix Burda Foundation which is still dedicated to educating people on early detection and the prevention of this insidious disease.

With a turnover of some EUR 2.66 billion and a workforce topping 12,300 worldwide, Hubert Burda Media is one of Europe’s most successful media groups. Still actively involved in the business, Hubert Burda maintains a keen interest in the company’s activities. He mingles with his employees in Munich and Offenburg and, whenever they bump into him in the elevator, he invariably asks them a question that has almost become his catchphrase: "What kind of work do you do for us?"

In February, Hubert Burda’s wife and two children and over a thousand Burda employees from Munich and Offenburg gathered to pay tribute to the publisher on his 80th birthday. The numerous guests of honour included politicians, actors and entrepreneurs. The uniqueness of Burda as a caring, family-owned company was palpable in the personal warmth that reigned between him and his children Jacob and Elisabeth. They joined him on stage to convey their best wishes, and Elisabeth even performed a song that she had personally composed for her father.


"The occasional stumble is part and parcel of life. If you risk something, you can take a hit. But if you do fall, it’s vital that you get back up on your feet and carry on with life. There's a song that has always helped me make it through the tough times in life: Simon & Garfunkel's 'I am a rock, I am an island'. I listened to it again and again, until I eventually became the rock myself and was able to survive on my own reserves. It was the power of imagination. I still feel this unique energy and creativity whenever I enter the Burda building. For me, it is simply the most wonderful thing."

Hubert Burda, during the celebrations in Munich


Those words, and all the festivities surrounding the 80th birthday of the visionary Hubert Burda, made everyone present appreciate being part of a family business. And to feel grateful for that experience.

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Hubert Burda with his wife Maria Furtwängler and children Elisabeth Furtwängler and Jacob Burda © Michael Tinnefeld

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