Forbes Media is up for sale, according to CEO and President Mike Perlis, who shared the news with employees in a memo circulated Friday and first
publicized by Bloomberg.
In the memo Perlis informed employees that Forbes
had retained Deutsche Bank as an advisor and representative for a potential sale, which he expects
to attract numerous bidders. In fact, some suitors have already expressed interest, as the decision to hire Deutsche Bank came after Forbes
received a number of “serious”
In the memo, Perlis revealed: “As a result of your tremendous work, we have received more than a few 'over the transom' indications of interest to buy Forbes Media. The
frequency and serious nature of these overtures have brought us to a decision point. We’re organizing a process to test the waters regarding a sale of Forbes Media.” Forbes'
flagship magazine hasn’t been immune to the general downward trend in print, with advertising pages down 12.3% to 1,045 in the first nine months of the year, according to
data from the Publishers Information Bureau. However, losses on the print side have been mitigated to a large degree by the company’s trailblazing (and sometimes controversial) digital business,
which now accounts for around 50% of total revenues.
Its pioneering digital initiatives include BrandVoice, a native advertising product that allows advertisers to create custom
online content that is then prominently displayed on the Forbes
site and mobile channels.
BrandVoice will contribute around 20% of the company’s total advertising
revenues in 2013, according to an update from Forbes on the third anniversary of the service; it is expected to kick in 30% in 2014. So far, it has attracted that over 30 big advertisers -- including
NetApp, SAP, Xerox EY, and Cartier -- and some clients are complementing their online content with print advertising buys.
Over the last three years, total traffic at Forbes.com has
jumped from 12 million unique visitors to 26 million, according to Perlis, who projected a 25% increase in total digital revenues in 2013