Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, is on the verge of taking a $200M stake in Forbes. Forbes is a US business economy magazine well known for listing world billionaires. The deal makes Binance one of the two top owners of Forbes.
The move by Binance comes in the wake of a series of similar movements by tech brands acquiring media outlets. In what is seen as brand publishing, this emerging trend has a lot of significance for both the media and tech brands.
Well, less than 2 years ago, the two parties were locked in a court case where Binance accused Forbes of libel, which cost it billions in revenue. This was in response to an article published by Forbes in which Binance was accused of conceiving an elaborate corporate structure to dupe US regulators and crypto investors.
So did Binance foresee the acquisition of the media outlet and decide to drop the case? And if that was the case, what is the significance of this acquisition?
An Emerging Trend
Large business corporations are finding it suitable to own their audiences instead of renting them — this direct approach lowers customer accusations costs and increases lifetime value. As a result, we are witnessing mass mergers and acquisitions of well-established media outlets by top businesses.
Tech companies are leading in this trend as voiced by Hubspot’s CTO Dharmesh Shah. He said that next-generation software companies will embed a media company in their structure. True to his word, Hubspot went ahead and acquired The Hustle media company.
To add to Dharmesh’s words, companies operating as software-as-a-service (SaaS) find it strategic to have a media arm. These sentiments were echoed by another CTO(former) of Coinbase. And indeed, such companies have done exactly that with Robinhood acquiring MarkerSnacks, a media company popular for its digestible finance news.
Binance’s newly attained jewel joins a long list of mainstream US media that non-media entities have acquired. The list also includes; Fortune, another mainstream US economics magazine acquired in 2018 by a non-media entrepreneur and Sports Illustrated, another American market gold title, sold in 2019 to a company that owns the Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe brands.
What do they stand to gain
A tech company such as Binance may have numerous reasons for acquiring a media company. The main and obvious reason is to remove gatekeepers and go directly to its audience.
These takeovers allow the tech companies to build brand awareness, add credibility and build an ongoing relationship with their audience.
All these will eventually lower the cost of acquiring customers while increasing lifetime value. The latter is especially true for tech companies operating as SaaS, gambling platforms or selling financial products.
With these insights, Binance stands to gain from Forbes’ established audience of more than 150 million people worldwide and 45 licensed local editions that cover 76 countries. As a disclaimer, however, ChangPeng Zhao, the Binance CEO, pledges to keep the independence of Forbes editorial sacrosanct. Is he going to stick by his word to the end? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
De-mystifying’ digital assets
Both parties have embraced the move by Binance to acquire a stake in Forbes with a lot of optimism. This has been seen as a way to de-mystify digital assets, which is what Forbes needed.
The business magazine was established in 1917 and remained under family ownership for several decades. However, its transition to digital from print was rocky up until now. That said, its path to a new beginning started when the Hong-Kong based Integrated Whale Media acquired a majority stake after the Forbes family put it up for sale in 2013.
Forbes continued to pursue a new vision by planning to become a publicly-traded entity on the New York Stock Exchange. But as a private business, this wasn’t going to be straightforward. The media had to merge with Magnum Opus — a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — to achieve this new status. The deal would see a $400M investment by new investors — Binance alone has already injected half of that sum.
As mentioned earlier, Forbes had been facing challenges with its migration from print to media. Even worse, its army of external contributors has been using the opportunity to market themselves with low-quality articles.
What’s more, Forbes did not have the capacity to report effectively on matters concerning Web3.0. However, the company can now bank on the experience of Binance to become a leader in providing helpful information about blockchain tech and all other emerging digital assets.
While this takeover gives Forbes the financial muscle for its digital transformation and the blockchain experience it needs to bolster its journalism, the deal also throws a lot of weight behind cryptocurrencies. More noteworthy, it shows the expanding influence of digital assets in the real world.