Forbes Plans IPO; Politico Acquired For $1 Billion

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Publisher Action 

Forbes is jumping on the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) bandwagon as a route to go public, CNBC reports. The business publisher announced plans to IPO at a $630 million value. The cash infusion will help Forbes’s “digital transformation,” and CEO Mike Federle and the management team will also remain in place. Such stability is not the case for the cash-strapped Vice Media Group, which laid off 17 staffers to improve its balance sheet before a potential IPO, according to Variety. Politico, meanwhile, was acquired by Axel Springer for more than $1 billion, CNN reports. The deal includes Politico’s tech-focused site Protocol. “It became steadily more clear that the responsibility to grow the business on a global scale, to better serve the audience and create more opportunities for our employees, might be better advanced by a larger company with a significant global footprint and ambitions than it could be by me as owner of a family business,” Politico owner Robert Allbritton said of the deal. 

History In The Making

Digital media is all about winning the moment. There’s always a flashy new tactic. And many news companies prioritize live news, sometimes even at the expense of old coverage. Newspaper and magazine publishers in particular have an unfortunate habit of scrubbing old stories. But there’s considerable value in archival content, writes marketer and blogger Adam Singer. For one thing, search indexes and social media channels often surface older stories. This traffic creates a valuable opt-in audience, because a certain percent of readers will subscribe or follow live updates. Digital-first companies understand the value of coverage narratives over time, with links to former stories within live news, whereas many print-era publications treat each story as a stand-alone item and treat online archives as a source of low-cost waste, like piles of old newspapers. Winning the battle for live news readers is important. But winning archival search traffic is a huge boost, too. “Those who are found, win. … if we don’t find you, you simply do not exist.”

An Apple A Day Keeps Bing Away

Google paid Apple $10 billion in 2020 to be the default search service for Safari and iOS. That’s based on back envelope math by Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. Apple’s total advertising revenue in 2020 was $12.37 billion, with $1.97 billion from app store ads and $400 million from other sources, leaving a hefty $10 billion from Google. Sacconaghi told investors that Google’s Apple search fee could top $15 billion this year, and will likely pass $18 billion in 2022. Google and Apple are actually in an awkward three-way dance with Microsoft (plus regulators waiting to cut in, so to speak). Google pays $10 billion and more every year if only to box Microsoft out of such valuable market share – iPhone owners are a proxy for high-spending consumers. Sacconaghi said Apple faces risks, too, if its ad biz attracts an antitrust suit. Or, if both Google and Microsoft reject Apple’s fee, Apple might take an eleven-digit annual hit to its Services revenue. But that’s unlikely, since both Google and Microsoft are overeager for the chance to run Apple searches. Apple reporter Philip Elmer-DeWitt spotted the news

But Wait, There’s More!  

Quigley-Simpson tapped Magnite as its preferred SSP. [release]

A decade and a half of instability: the history of Google messaging apps. [Ars Technica]

Adobe Digital Economy Index: Online prices are rising, could hamper ecomm growth. [release]

Joe Rogan, confined to Spotify, is losing influence (in exchange for $100M). [The Verge]

A new age of data means embracing the edge. [MIT Tech Review]

Adam Singer: The forgotten value of archival content. [blog]

You’re Hired

Revlon hired Thomas Cho as chief supply chain officer. [release]

Bryce Winkelman joined Quantum Metric as chief business and strategy officer. [release]

Dollar Shave Club tapped Kerry Sullivan as CMO. [WSJ]

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