From Jose Antonio Martinez Soler: "What is now Madrid's leading daily paper and Spain's second largest paper by readership--with editions in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Zaragoza--was conceived in our home office in late 1999. I'd been fired from Spanish Television (state controlled TVE) by the new conservative government in 1996, following a pre-election interview I did with candidate Jose Maria Aznar, who won the election. Although I won the suit filed against the TVE, hard times followed, as it was difficult to return to journalism. I retreated to the University of Almeria where I taught economics and Ana, my wife, set up a home office.
"But tensions eased and, in late 1999, Ana and I founded a small company, Multiprensa y Mas, collaborating on a project for the first high-quality free paper in Spain. She then sold the company--with me as CEO--to a group of Spanish institutional and private investors willing to finance the project.
"The first edition, then called Madrid y Mas (Madrid and More), was born with a staffof30 journalists in February 2000 with 100,000 copies in Madrid. By November, we were publishing another 100,000 copies in Barcelona (Barcelona y Mas). We invented a strategy of free distribution with courteous students in snappy bright red vests and caps handing out the paper to commuters and pedestrians at busy street corners in the city.
"In July 2001, Norway's leading press conglomerate, Schibsted, which had launched free dailies under the brand name '20 minutes' in Switzerland and Germany, bought a majority stake in the company. …