Tech CEO Austin Russell’s Bid to Buy Forbes Fails – Austin Russell, the CEO of Luminar, saw his attempt to acquire Forbes Global Media Holdings come to a halt. Integrated Whale Media Investments, Forbes’ Hong Kong-based parent company, terminated the agreement as Russell was unable to secure the necessary group of investors, according to an internal memo by Forbes CEO Mike Federle, as reported by Bloomberg.
“The Forbes acquisition was all about impact, and to further the philosophy of business-for-good and philanthropy with the next generation of capitalism,” a statement provided by Austin Russell’s family office reads. “At this juncture, it was determined that it was in the best interest of the parties that the contract be terminated. We wish nothing but the best to the Forbes team.”
In May, the 28-year-old tech entrepreneur and Luminar founder, Austin Russell, revealed plans to purchase an 82% stake in Forbes Global Media Holdings, valuing the company at nearly $800 million. Despite initial success in attracting investors, the deal, set to conclude on November 1, unraveled when Indian investment firm Sun Group and other parties failed to fulfill their contractual financial commitments, as reported by Axios earlier this month.
Shiv Khemka, vice chair of Sun Group, had pledged a $300 million investment for the acquisition. An extension to the deadline was provided to Russell, who dedicated the past two weeks addressing the multimillion-dollar deficit. Additionally, sources familiar with the deal revealed that an amended agreement sent to Russell’s camp included terms for the investor group deemed unworkable.
Forbes, a prominent media firm recognized for its magazine and billionaire ranking lists, offloaded 95% of its ownership to Integrated Whale Media in 2014. Initially aiming to go public through a merger with the special purpose acquisition company Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited, Forbes Media abandoned the agreement in June 2022. Forbes has been on the market since then.
Russell, acknowledged by Forbes as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in 2021, follows a trend of tech moguls venturing into the media sector. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, purchased The Washington Post in 2013, while Marc Benioff, chair, CEO, and co-founder of Salesforce, along with his wife Lynne Benioff, acquired Time from Meredith Corporation for $190 million in cash in 2018. More recently, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter led to the social media site’s renaming to X.