Austin Russell, the young self-made billionaire and CEO of Luminar, is set to acquire a majority stake in Forbes Global Media Holdings, valuing the media company at nearly $800 million. Russell, who gained recognition as a Forbes cover star and a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, will hold an 82% interest in the company once the deal is finalized later this year. This acquisition marks an exciting chapter for both Russell and Forbes, as they look to leverage their expertise and resources to propel the iconic brand to new heights.
Forbes, a 106-year-old media company, has been owned by Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments (IWM) since 2014, with the Forbes family retaining a minority stake. IWM will retain a minority stake in the company, while Russell assumes the role of the new steward of Forbes. Steve Forbes, the current chairman and editor-in-chief, will remain involved in the company’s operations. Russell, however, will not be directly involved in the day-to-day activities but will serve as a visionary for the brand, providing strategic direction.
Expressing his gratitude for being selected as Forbes’ new steward, Russell emphasized the importance of creating value and positive impact. He envisions Forbes continuing to inform, recognize, and challenge leaders in tackling society’s biggest challenges. With high-quality content and platforms for the business-focused community, Forbes aims to better serve its readership under this mission. Russell’s vision aligns with the changing definition of success, which goes beyond wealth accumulation and encompasses the broader impact that one’s actions can have on society.
Steve Forbes commended Russell as a dynamic entrepreneur and thought leader who has successfully built an industry-leading business. He expressed confidence that Russell’s energy and vision will enhance Forbes’ reputation and ensure its continued excellence. The acquisition presents an opportunity for Forbes to leverage its brand strength and catalyze its growth in partnership with Russell.
Integrated Capital’s managing director, Jeffrey Yam, explained that when IWM acquired Forbes in 2014, the goal was to transform the legendary brand into a digital powerhouse while exploring new revenue streams. With the accomplished achievements of this vision, IWM now looks forward to passing the torch to Russell, whose authentic vision for a new era of capitalism resonates with Forbes’ legacy. Yam believes that Russell’s leadership will unlock significant value growth, and as a result, IWM will retain a minority stake in the company.
Forbes has already showcased its commitment to innovation with recent endeavors in Web3 and e-commerce, including the sale of its own branded merchandise. The company has strategically diversified its revenue streams, with print magazine revenues accounting for a smaller percentage of its total in recent years. Forbes has continuously adapted to the changing media landscape and has positioned itself as a forward-thinking brand in the digital era.
Initially planning to go public through a SPAC merger, Forbes shifted its strategy and pursued a private buyer instead. This decision was made to ensure that the company’s underlying value, driven by impressive revenue and EBITDA growth, would be duly recognized. The search for a private buyer led to the partnership with Austin Russell, marking a new chapter in Forbes’ growth story.
As Forbes empowers a new board consisting of leading experts from the American media, tech, and AI fields, the stage is set for the media company to embrace fresh perspectives and drive innovation further. This acquisition not only represents a significant milestone for Austin Russell but also paves the way for Forbes to capitalize on its esteemed reputation and solidify its position as a global leader in business and media. With the combined expertise of Russell, Forbes’ existing leadership, and the new board, the future looks promising for the iconic brand.