So What’s Next For Facebook? Why Not Purchase Forbes?


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

In the past two years, Facebook has made 23 acquisitions, including some giant ones like messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion, virtual reality company Oculus VR for $2 billion and photo sharing service Instagram for $1 billion.  The company has been investing heavily in technologies like translation, mobile advertising, gaming, design, face recognition and even drones that will help future users get access to its service and receive a better experience overall.  Since May, 2012 its share price has doubled.  The company now has more than 1.1 billion active users (an increase of 22% from 2012) and now has more than 600 million daily mobile users.

So what’s next for the social media giant?  They should purchase Forbes.  Yes, you read right.

And what an asset Forbes is.  Just ask Lewis D”Vorkin, the Chief Product Officer of Forbes Media.  In a few of his recent “Inside Forbes” blogs, Dworkin reported that in December 2013 alone, had 75 million visitors with about one-third of those being mobile.  In fact, mobile traffic accounts for 31% of the site’s unique visitors, up from 20% just a year ago.  Approximately 30% of the site’s unique monthly visitors also come from overseas.  The company has more than 1,000 contributors in addition to its staff (and as you’ve probably figured out, I am one of the unpaid ones!).  In just the past two and a half years D’Vorkin writes that “we extended our 96-year-old brand and mission to a new generation of entrepreneurs eager to create wealth, provide jobs and make a difference.“

And Forbes, one of the most well-known publishing brands on the planet, is for sale.  The company is asking $400 million which, to some, may be more than twice what it’s actually worth.  According to this report, the company earned $33 million last year and projects revenues of about $162 million in 2014.  Not only that, but Steve Forbes, the company’s chairman, wants to retain a significant role after the acquisition which may have been a stumbling block for a few potential buyers.  There have been bites, but no deal as of yet.

For Facebook, these numbers look like petty cash.  What’s $400 million after buying a company for $19 billion?  And Facebook, like other social media services such as LinkedIn LNKD -5.28% and Twitter, needs a publishing platform like Forbes.  Why?

Forbes brings a combination of both consumer and business content.  It has both a successful online and print platform that is growing its advertising revenues.  It has an established platform for events and conferences (as well as real estate developments). It has an infrastructure of experienced journalists and contributors that will continue to provide content to draw more users to Facebook and keep the social media giant’s existing members coming back.  Forbes has built a strong mobile presence and has a significant number of readers in the same overseas markets where Facebook is looking to grow.  Its name is as recognizable as Facebook.   There about 25 million small business pages on Facebook alone, a critical audience that will grow worldwide with the help of content that can teach us all to be better business people. And why not pair Steve Forbes with Mark Zuckerberg – experience with youth, publisher and technologist, billionaire and billionaire, philanthropist with future philanthropist.  The community of one-percenters with the community of ninety-nine percenters.  Why not merge these two communities together?

To be sure, Facebook doesn’t have to “control” Forbes.  Facebook can buy Forbes and then let Forbes do what it does best – provide great content about the business of life and life in business.  Facebook will own that content.  It will have access to Forbes’ contributors and staff who can create specialized content for its platforms.  And certain of its most popular content (i.e. those lists of celebrity and sports millionaires that people love to read) can be restricted to only Facebook users.  They can expand their community with the great reporting and interesting stories that have driven Forbes’ growth over the past few years. It can use the Forbes brand to lure in more advertisers.

A growing social media giant investing in the future and looking for ways to attract and maintain its community.  A 96-year-old publishing brand that is still growing, boasts a resilient reputation, an enormous amount of monthly unique visitors to its website and a stable of experienced journalists that’s looking to be sold.  Why not?


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