Tag Archives: Forbes

Forbes power

Forbes nears deal with China company

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China-based Fosun International is now said to be in final negotiations to land Forbes Media and its related digital properties, reports Keith Kelly of the New York Post.

Kelly writes, “One source said the deal could be announced as early as this week — or early next week.

“Fosun is a diversified, closely-held conglomerate that last year purchased 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza for $725 million and already publishes the Chinese edition of the magazine.

“A report last week, in The Deal, had Fosun as the winner already. It quoted sources saying the price tag will be in the $250 million range — far below the $400 million that Deutsche Bank, which is handling the sale, said in November it hoped to fetch.

“As Media Ink first reported, Steve Forbes may be staying on board with a minority stake.

“Speculation is that Forbes will keep up to 20 percent.”

Read more here.

forbes-billionaires

Price that Forbes sells for will tell us a lot

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Michael Wolff of USA Today writes about the pending sale of Forbes magazine and what that will tell us about its operation.

Wolff writes, “Forbes in print form was once worth several billion dollars. Now its magazine has, at best, nostalgic value. So reports that the new Forbes was hopefully looking at a $400 million or $500 million sale on the strength of its digital accomplishments have buoyed the digital content market.

“Indeed, the digital journalism business has been distinguished most recently by the number of new start-ups in the field, and by well-known journalists leaving traditional brands to join new digital efforts. There is even a sense that there is a new science to digital publishing, that the code has been broken.

“Forbes is the looking glass example of this “science.” Looked at one way, by being aggressive or shameless, it has built a platform that offers the use of its brand to virtually anyone in a public commons sort of way. Thanks to the sheer volume of free content and opinions alone (and with artful top editing — i.e., headlines that encourage clicking), Forbes generates lots of low-cost traffic and views, against which low-priced advertising is sold. That’s the business in a nutshell: keeping your cost of content lower and cost of traffic lower than the low rates you’re getting for each view.

“But looked at another way, Forbes is an obvious fraud. It is not a magazine or editorial operation at all. It is just, in effect, a user comment site that allows commenters the pretense of saying they have written for Forbes. Or, even, for paid promoters to write laudatory articles for Forbes about whatever they are promoting, then to say, in further promotions, that Forbes lavishly endorses such-and-such complete baloney.”

Read more here.

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Fosun closes in on Forbes deal for less than $250 million

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When business magazine and website Forbes Media LLC is sold, likely to Fosun International Ltd., the Chinese conglomerate with the front-runner position in the company’s auction, sources said, it will be for a much lower price than private equity minority stakeholder Elevation Partners LP was hoping to receive, reports Jonathan Marino of The Deal.

Marino wrties, “Two sources said it is likely Fosun will acquire Forbes, and that it will pay less than $250 million for the magazine. The founding Forbes family is also expected to retain a stake in the business, a source familiar with the situation said. The deal has not been fully hashed out yet, but sources said an agreement should be reached shortly.

“Estimates for the company’s auction — which Deutsche Bank AG was hired last fall to run — have differed wildly at times. A Wall Street Journal report earlier this year noted hopeful sell-side expectations of a sale in the $400 million to $500 million range.

“Though Elevation has already written down the $264 million it invested in 2006  to $120 million, according to a Fortune report, its possible that the private equity firm  could still secure a slight internal rate of return bump, and not a loss. Elevation has preferred stock, meaning it will receive virtually all of the sale proceeds, provided it is at or less than $250 million.

“‘Given the financial performance, I’m not surprised the bids came in below expectations,’ said one private equity source, which declined to be identified.”

Read more here.
Forbes website 2

Parts of the Forbes site remain down

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Arik Hesseldahl of Re/code writes about the Forbes website hacking and how it is affecting some of its writers.

Hesseldahl writes, “Meanwhile, Forbes’ blogging site remains offline as of this afternoon. Typically, contributors have free rein to publish their own posts via Forbes’ WordPress installation. I’ve talked with a handful of people who are regular contributors, and they tell me that, instead, they’ve been emailing their posts in to an editor who is publishing posts manually, which is significantly slowing down their ability to publish.

“‘Bloody awful. I have to email posts. No comments. Complete nightmare,’ one contributor told me in a direct message on Twitter. ‘This is really making me mad,’ wrote another in a Facebook message.

“Why this matters is that Forbes relies heavily on its network of 1,200 contributors to basically give it free content — a few attract enough traffic to make a little money in profit sharing — and a place to put advertisements. Without that, fewer people are seeing Forbes’ ads, and that’s bad for business. The longer its blogging platform stays down, the less happy its contributors will be. They could opt to take their words elsewhere.”

Read more here.

Forbes web

How Forbes reacted to the hacking of its website

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Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about how the business magazine reacted when it discovered its website had been hacked last week by the Syrian Electronic Army.

Dvorkin writes, “We took quick action on Thursday to lock down the platform, limiting our ability to publish. We made what we thought were corrective adjustments, then reopened the system for staffers and contributors to continue their work. Hours later, it became clear the attack was continuing. Once again we locked down the platform, making additional modifications. It was reopened for the overnight hours. Friday morning brought more of the same, so we decided to shutdown the normal publishing process for the holiday weekend.

“On both Thursday and Friday (and throughout the weekend), Forbes.com itself remained continuously available to the public. Traffic on Thursday was normal for a weekday, as it was for a Friday before a Monday holiday (archival content accounts for an increasing share of our usage). On Friday, we took steps to map computers in our New York office to a ‘safe haven’ server so staff reporters could publish. We set up a special email box for contributors to drop their posts. FORBES producers would grab them and publish them to the contributor’s page. Our loyal contributors eagerly participated in the make-shift process.

“Communication with our audience and contributors became critical, though separating threat from fact took time. We used our Twitter and Facebook pages to notify registered readers of Forbes.com that their email addresses may have been exposed (again, it’s now been confirmed they were). We also published a headline on the Forbes.com home page. Even though passwords used by consumers to log on to Forbes.com were encrypted, we strongly encouraged that they be changed when sign-on became available again. We were in contact with contributors through email and other means.”

Read more here.

Forbes website 2

Forbes website hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

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The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed it hacked the Forbes.com website, posting an image of what appears to be a WordPress administrator panel for multiple Forbes websites, reports David Gilbert of the International Business Times.

Gilbert writes, “While Forbes.com now appears to be back to normal, screenshots grabbed by Softpeida show the hackers defaced a number of pages on the site, posting a story which claimed to be written by the website’s cybersecurity correspondent Andy Greenberg under the headline: ‘Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.’

“As well as defacing the website, they have hijacked three Twitter accounts related to the website. Along with the @ForbesTech account, the hackers have also successfully gained control of the account belonging to social media editor Alex Knapp (@TheAlexKnapp) and personal finance reporter Samantha Sharf (@Samsharf).

“The Forbes Tech account and that of Alex Knapp have been reset, but a message stating ‘Syrian Electronic Army Was Here’ remains on Sharf’s account.”

Read more here.

Forbes website 2

Forbes website gets hacked

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Forbes has posted the following message on its Facebook page:

Forbes.com was targeted in a digital attack and our publishing platform was compromised. Users’ email addresses may have been exposed. The passwords were encrypted, but as a precaution, we strongly encourage Forbes readers and contributors to change their passwords on our system, and encourage them to change them on other websites if they use the same password elsewhere. We have notified law enforcement. We take this matter very seriously and apologize to the members of our community for this breach.

Jim Romenesko has posted an internal memo about the issue here.

Forbes power

Forbes employees believe it will be bought by Asian company

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Forbes insiders believe that the business magazine’s operations are about to be sold to an Asian buyer, reports Keith Kelly of the New York Post.

Kelly writes, “CEO Mike Perlis, on that day, was moderating a forum at the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, Calif.

“According to several attendees, he boasted of transforming Forbes Media in the three years since he took over operations of the family-owned company founded in 1917 — but was closed-mouthed on who might be buying it.

“The finalists appear to be China-based Fosun International, which publishes a Chinese edition of the magazine, and Spice International, a diversified Singapore company that is headed by Indian-born billionaire Guo Guangchang.

“A spokeswoman for Forbes Media declined to comment.”

Read more here.

forbes-billionaires

Covering the sale of a business magazine

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Bidders have been circling Forbes as the iconic business brand put itself up for sale. The value is now in the name since the company has been losing money.

Bloomberg had this story about potential bidders by Stefania Bianchi, George Smith Alexander and Zijing Wu:

Forbes Media LLC is drawing interest from acquirers including China’s Fosun International Ltd. (656) and Singapore’s Spice Global Investments Pvt, with final offers for the magazine publisher due today, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Germany’s Axel Springer SE, which publishes the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, is also interested in the business, two people said, asking not to be named discussing private information. Forbes, which is working with Deutsche Bank AG on the sale, is seeking as much as $400 million, people with knowledge of the matter said in November.

The sale of Forbes, famous for tracking the wealth of billionaires across the globe, follows years of dwindling profits as the rise of digital media ate into advertising at the magazine. During the sale process, Forbes executives have emphasized the brand as a masthead for events and conferences as well as real-estate developments, a way of extending beyond its roots in traditional media, two people said.

“Forbes used to just be a magazine, now it’s a worldwide business brand,” Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc., said in an interview. “How many people in their twenties and thirties are in emerging business markets — Asia, Africa, Latin America? That’s my sense of the great growth potential of the Forbes brand.”

Spice Global, whose businesses range from finance to health care and entertainment, is currently seeking partners from the Middle East, the U.S. and Singapore as it prepares its bid for Forbes, said two of the people. The company will keep a majority stake in Forbes even if it bids with a partner and may offer the Forbes family the opportunity to buy back shares in the company, one of the people said.

William Boston had this story in the Wall Street Journal about a potential bid for Forbes:

European newspaper publisher Axel Springer SE is bidding for Forbes magazine and wants a foothold in the U.S. digital-publishing market, but Chief Executive Mathias Döpfner is hesitating at the price of online assets.

Springer needs acquisitions to continue expanding its digital business but rarely pays a premium, Mr. Döpfner said in an interview. He described Springer’s approach as buying new-economy assets for old-economy prices.

“We are disciplined when it comes to price,” said Mr. Döpfner, who declined to discuss Forbes. “We will definitely not go hunting trophies in the U.S. seeking prestige.” He listed three criteria for pursuing targets: “a reasonable price, if we can become a market leader and if it fits with our core competencies.”

The company’s digital overhaul has accelerated over the past two years. It has reoriented its business and made more than two dozen acquisitions, mostly of small online companies. Mr. Döpfner described his strategy as getting back to the roots of the newspaper business: hard-hitting online news, financed by digital subscriptions, online advertising and digital classifieds.

Springer’s revenue from digital media rose to €1.1 billion in 2012 from €24 million in 2006. Operating profit on digital businesses rose to €243 million from €1 million during the same period. Digital businesses account for nearly 60% of Springer’s operating profit today, up from just 4% in 2008.

Springer is vying with several bidders, including two from Asia to buy Forbes Media LLC, people familiar with the situation said. The deadline for final bids was Monday evening in New York. The Forbes family wants to retain a minority stake and management control, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The family is seeking as much as $400 million for the company, a person familiar with the talks said. Forbes declined to comment.

Springer’s bid could be a good one for the Forbes brand. The Journal reported that Dopfner was one of the first to put content behind a paywall:

Mr. Döpfner also started charging subscriptions for the digital versions of the Bild Zeitung and Die Welt, becoming the first major German publisher to put online versions of flagship publications behind paywalls. Bild is Germany’s largest online news portal, reaching around 14 million unique users daily. Within six months, the company had more than 152,000 paying subscribers to Bild.de.

Mr. Döpfner’s moves have sparked criticism that he was abandoning journalism and selling the company DNA. He calls the claims “an insult to every journalist.”

Mr. Döpfner said content once again will be king. “That’s why it is interesting now to invest in content businesses that are still undervalued.” He described last year’s purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -0.06% CEO Jeff Bezos as a watershed event that drew the battle lines between the traditional publishing industry and technology companies such as Amazon, Google Inc. GOOG -0.38% and Apple Inc. AAPL +1.79%

“The question is whether traditional content companies will win the game because they have learned how to use technology or whether the technology companies win because they learn how to create content,” Mr. Döpfner said. “That is the great game today.”

Forbes has tried a lot of experiments with contributor content and other native advertising. None of it has helped boost revenue, and some would argue it’s diluted the brand. It will be interesting to see the price and how the rest of the industry values the name.

Forbes

Sale of Forbes is close

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Final offers to acquire Forbes Media, the parent of the business magazine Forbes, were due on Sunday, report Stefania Bianchi, George Smith Alexander and Zijing Wu of Bloomberg News.

They write, “The sale of Forbes, famous for tracking the wealth of billionaires across the globe, follows years of dwindling profits as the rise of digital media ate into advertising at the magazine. During the sale process, Forbes executives have emphasized the brand as a masthead for events and conferences as well as real-estate developments, a way of extending beyond its roots in traditional media, two people said.

“‘Forbes used to just be a magazine, now it’s a worldwide business brand,’ Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc., said in an interview. ‘How many people in their twenties and thirties are in emerging business markets — Asia, Africa, Latin America? That’s my sense of the great growth potential of the Forbes brand.’

“Spice Global, whose businesses range from finance to health care and entertainment, is currently seeking partners from the Middle East, the U.S. and Singapore as it prepares its bid for Forbes, said two of the people. The company will keep a majority stake in Forbes even if it bids with a partner and may offer the Forbes family the opportunity to buy back shares in the company, one of the people said.”

Read more here.