NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Austin Russell Forbes Holdings, controlled by American innovator and automotive tech industry pioneer Austin Russell, today announced that financing for the approximately $800 million acquisition of Forbes Global Holdings Inc. 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.
Investors in the fund for the acquisition include world-renowned industry leaders such as #1 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.
As previously announced, Russell maintains an 82% controlling interest in the buyer entity (“Forbes Holdings”) and all investors accepted by his family office are contractually passive. Forbes Holdings intends to decide final investor allocations for closing in the coming weeks. This transaction 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 acquisition.
It was previously announced Forbes will 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. Today, Forbes Holdings is announcing its new slate for the board of directors to take effect at closing, which includes Austin Russell, Jimmy Donaldson (“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 also will be retained by Jeffrey Yam as designee of IWM in conjunction with its retained minority stake.
This transaction will enable the development of a new business venture ecosystem alongside Forbes Media, leveraging the iconic Forbes brand. With this new structure, Forbes Holdings will look to back leading entrepreneurs to jump-start “unicorn” businesses by providing brand, distribution, marketing, and capital, helping to address some of the biggest challenges for new companies. The initial focus for the new Forbes-branded business ventures will be in the financial products and services sector, and expanding from there.
“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,” said Mr. Russell. “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.”
“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,” said Mike Federle, CEO, Forbes. “I’m incredibly excited about the future seeing the slate of innovators that Austin has assembled to help guide Forbes into the next chapter.”
“I am all-in to help realize the new vision for Forbes and the creation of the branded venture ecosystem,” said Ms. Pierson. “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.”
“Forbes is the most iconic business brand and I am thrilled to contribute to its expansion as a franchise through technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” said Mr. Dubugras. “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.”
“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,” said Mr. Robbins. “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.”
These board appointments, brand strategy, and investors reflect Mr. Russell’s vision for Forbes, helping shape the next generation of capitalism where financial success intersects with building value for the world. Mr. 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. Last year he was recognized on the Philanthropy 50 list as the 36th largest charitable donor in America. Mr. 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 transaction remains on schedule to close later this year.
About Forbes Holdings
Forbes Holdings is an entity formed by Austin Russell’s family office for the purpose of acquiring Forbes today. Mr. Russell is an American inventor, business leader, and self-driving industry pioneer.
Mr. Russell, 28, founded his company 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. He has been named by Forbes as 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.