NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, American innovator and automotive tech industry pioneer Austin Russell, the Founder and CEO of Luminar, and Hong-Kong based Integrated Whale Media Investments (IWM) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for the acquisition of majority ownership in Forbes Global Media Holdings in a transaction valuing the company at nearly $800 million. Mr. Russell will hold an 82% interest in the entity that controls the global media platform upon closing of the transaction, bringing ownership back to the United States and with a renewed focus of helping shape the next generation of capitalism where financial success and building value for the world both intersect. All capital for the acquisition has been fully committed and independent of his stake in Luminar.
“For over 100 years, Forbes has served as the authority representing success and business news at a global scale, and I’m honored to be selected by the owners as the new steward of the brand,” said Mr. Russell. “Today, success should no longer represent wealth accumulation at any cost, but instead be defined by how value is created and the positive ripple effects it can have. My hope is that Forbes can continue to even better serve its readership by helping objectively inform, recognize, and challenge leaders to tackle society’s biggest challenges under this mission, with high quality content as well as platforms for its business-focused community.”
Mr. Russell has previously been recognized by Forbes on its cover, Forbes 30 under 30 list, and as the youngest self-made billionaire. Last year he was recognized on the Philanthropy 50 list of the top charitable donors in America.
Mr. Russell will act as a visionary for the brand, and will not be involved in its day-to-day operations. To help guide the company into its next chapter, Forbes will empower a new board consisting of American media, tech, and AI experts at the top of their fields. IWM will also keep one board seat in conjunction with their retained minority stake. Forbes’ platform is profitable and growing with multiple verticals beyond publishing that range from real estate to financial services. The brand will look to attract some of the best and brightest minds to help transform the company into a technology-first business to further accelerate its growth trajectory.
“When IWM acquired Forbes in 2014, our vision was to keep the legendary brand as a strong force in the media world, fully accelerate Forbes to digital, and leverage the strength of the brand to create new revenue streams. We were able to achieve our goals,” said Jeffrey Yam, Managing Director of Integrated Capital. “Now, we are excited to pass the torch to someone who we believe can catapult Forbes’ legacy to even greater heights with his authentic vision to create a new era of capitalism, backed by one of the most recognizable business brands in the world. We believe there is significant opportunity for value growth with the new vision and, as a result, we will be retaining a minority stake. We look forward to the next chapter of the Forbes growth story.”
“We welcome Austin Russell. He is a dynamic entrepreneur and thought leader who has built an industry-leading business from the ground up. His energy and vision will enable Forbes to continue and enhance the excellent work for which we are known,” said Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.
As part of the transaction, the remaining stake of Forbes owned by the Forbes family will be acquired by the new owner. However, Steve Forbes will remain involved in the company.
Mr. Russell founded his Florida and California-based company Luminar over 10 years ago, and has led the company to become the global leader in automotive lidar and software technology. Luminar is guided by a bold 100-year vision: to save as many as 100 million lives and 100 trillion hours on the road over the next 100 years through reducing vehicle accidents and enabling autonomous capabilities. Russell has no plans to sell or leverage any portion of his stake in Luminar.
Completion of the transaction is expected to take place later this year and is subject to customary closing conditions.
Forbes champions success by celebrating those who have made it, and those who aspire to make it. Forbes convenes and curates the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 140 million people worldwide through its trusted journalism, signature LIVE and Forbes Virtual events, custom marketing programs and 48 licensed local editions in 82 countries. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include real estate, education and financial services license agreements.
About Austin Russell
Austin Russell is an American inventor, business leader, and self-driving industry pioneer as the Founder and CEO of Luminar Technologies (NASDAQ: LAZR), the global leader in automotive LiDAR hardware and software technology. Under Mr. Russell’s leadership, Luminar has developed the first lidar and software technology capable of powering production autonomous vehicles, has amassed over 50 commercial partners including the majority of the world’s largest automakers, and has a greater enterprise value than all other public competitors in the space combined.
Mr. Russell founded Luminar in 2012 at age 17 after previously working on various photonics and optoelectronics projects as an early teen, architecting a new kind of lidar to enable safe assisted and autonomous capabilities on cars, trucks, and robo-taxis, with over 100 awarded patents. Now at 28, he is currently the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. Mr. Russell was also a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship, MIT Tech Review Innovators Under 35, and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni. He is an active philanthropist, notably donating $70 million to the Central Florida Foundation with a primary focus on his local community, and was recognized last year on the Philanthropy 50 as the 36th largest charitable donor in America.