Austin Russell Forbes Holdings – which is controlled by American innovator and automotive tech pioneer Austin Russell – recently announced that financing for the approximately $800 million acquisition of Forbes Global Holdings from Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments (IWM ) is now substantially oversubscribed with over $2 billion of demand primarily from American tech, media, finance, and AI industry leaders and their family offices.
The investors in the fund for the acquisition include world-renowned industry leaders such as life and business strategist Tony Robbins; fintech pioneer and billionaire Brex Co-founder/CEO Henrique Dubugras; Newsette Media Group Founder and CEO Daniella Pierson (recognized by Forbes as one of the youngest and wealthiest self-made women of color in the U.S.); Hartbeat Ventures (the investment arm of comedian and actor Kevin Hart); billionaire AI industry leader and founder/CEO of Scale Alexandr Wang; Benchmark Capital Partner Victor Lazarte; record producer, songwriter, artist, actor and executive benny blanco; and Plaid Co-founder William Hockey.
Russell maintains an 82% controlling interest in the buyer entity (Forbes Holdings) and all investors accepted by his family office are contractually passive. And Forbes Holdings plans to decide final investor allocations for closing in the coming weeks. This deal will facilitate a transition of ownership and control of Forbes from Hong Kong back to the U.S. There is no capital or involvement from any sanctioned individuals or any Chinese or Russian entities or citizens from the buyer in the purchase.
It was previously announced Forbes is going to empower a new board of directors consisting of next-generation media, tech, and AI industry leaders at the top of their fields to champion the next-generation of capitalism through business-for-good and giving back. Plus, Forbes Holdings also announced its new slate for the board of directors to take effect at closing, which includes Austin Russell, Jimmy Donaldson (known as Mr. Beast), Kevin Hart, and Daniella Pierson to help usher Forbes into its next chapter with insight from the next generation of leading entrepreneurs, with more to come. A board seat will also be retained by Jeffrey Yam as designee of IWM in conjunction with its retained minority stake.
This deal will enable the development of a new business venture ecosystem alongside Forbes Media, utilizing the iconic Forbes brand. And with this new structure, Forbes Holdings will look to back leading entrepreneurs to jump-start “unicorn” businesses by providing brand, distribution, marketing, and capital – which helps address some of the biggest challenges for new companies. This initial focus for the new Forbes-branded business ventures will be in the financial products and services sector, and expanding from there.
These board appointments, brand strategy, and investors reflect Russell’s vision for Forbes, helping shape the next generation of capitalism where financial success intersects with building value for the world. And Russell has previously been recognized by Forbes on its cover, as the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, and as a leader in its Forbes 30 under 30 list. Russell will not be involved in Forbes’ day-to-day operations. Steve Forbes will remain involved with Forbes Media – which will continue to be led by the existing management team. The deal remains on schedule to close later this year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Forbes realize a new vision for capitalism, where companies create both economic value and value for the world at the same time. My day-to-day focus remains on my company Luminar, and for Forbes I’m proud to have already brought on some of the most successful next-generation tech and media leaders to help steer the brand going forward, with more to come. For the first time in a century, the business model and brand of Forbes will evolve in line with this new vision.”
— Austin Russell
“One of the reasons Forbes has thrived for more than a hundred years is our culture of constant innovation, and the kind of team we have making that a reality every day. I’m incredibly excited about the future seeing the slate of innovators that Austin has assembled to help guide Forbes into the next chapter.”
— Mike Federle, CEO, Forbes
“I am all-in to help realize the new vision for Forbes and the creation of the branded venture ecosystem. We have the opportunity to change the traditional business model of media, and I’m excited to work with the incredible talent at Forbes today while also bringing in new top-tier entrepreneurs to lead new ventures within the holding company. Together, we will look to create the world’s most robust ecosystem of businesses that leverage and align with the ethos of the new Forbes brand.”
— Daniella Pierson
“Forbes is the most iconic business brand and I am thrilled to contribute to its expansion as a franchise through technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The strategy to create a Forbes business venture ecosystem with the holding company aligns with the success stories of some of the world’s most valuable brands, and I genuinely believe Forbes has the opportunity to become just that.”
— Henrique Dubugras
“Austin has brought together a combination of some of the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds of the next generation to steer Forbes into its next chapter. I couldn’t be more excited about the new vision and plan, and am proud to play a role in this transaction and brand transformation.”
— Tony Robbins