Forbes – A History

Located in Jersey City, New Jersey, Forbes is an American business magazine. The magazine covers original articles on industry, finance, investing and other marketing topics. 

B. C Forbes was initially a columnist for the Hearst papers and his partner, Walter Drey was the General Manager of the Magazine of Wall Street. Both of them founded the Forbes Magazine on September 15th, 1917. This was a partnership where Forbes provided the money and Drey contributed with his publishing expertise. 

*Fun Fact- The original name of the magazine was Forbes- Devoted to Doers and Doings.

Drey then became the vice president of the B. C Forbes Publishing Company while B. C Forbes became the editor-in-chief.

*Fun Fact- B. C Forbes held this post until his death in 1954. 

Throughout the 1920s, Forbes was the only business magazine in the United States. However, by 1930s, two other business magazines, Business Week and Fortune joined the market which lowered Forbes’ circulation. 

In the year 1929, the market crash was not the only problem Forbes faced. With new competitors in the market whose, news-oriented approach and long, in-depth analysis of the corporations beat Forbes’ subjective style of businessman-as-hero which was no more cutting-edge then.  

*Fun Fact– Forbes’ advertising fell from 1216 pages in 1929 to 269 only. 

The 1940s saw an increase in the circulation of the magazine when Malcolm S. Forbes while working with his father initiated several changes that included hiring a staff of workers who would work exclusively for Forbes, and also started the Forbes Investors Advisory Institute. 

*Fun Fact- As the new editors emphasized on factual details, Forbes became a reliable source of information among the businessmen. 

Throughout the 1970s, the magazine enjoyed success. With this, Forbes launched its popular “Forbes Richest 400” in 1982, which was a list of 400 wealthiest Americans. 

By the year 1972, Forbes’ magazine circulation had 625,000 way more than that of Fortune. The subscriptions alone generated $4.5 million and the advertising brought in $20 million by the year 1976. 

*Fun Fact- The first issue contained long profiles of–in a much-used phrase of the time–“big men” such as Charles Mitchell who would turn Citigroup forebears National City Bank and the National City Company into America’s first national financial services firms, and Jay Gould Jay Gould , the speculator and stock manipulator.

In the following years, the competition for Forbes grew fiercer. In the year 1978, Fortune magazine applied a twice-monthly format which tripled its revenues for the next 6 years. Even with trailing revenue of $84 million, Forbes remained the second most profitable magazine after Playboy. It could easily boast that “one is five of our readers is a millionaire”.

In the 1990s, Forbes worked hard to keep up with the changing scenarios of technology. A Japanese edition was unveiled in March 1992; a Chinese edition was announced in 1993; and in 1998 Forbes Global Business and Finance, an English-language international edition, was launched under the leadership of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. 

However, the challenge of Internet remained, and with this, Forbes launched a new technology quarterly supplement Forbes ASAP in 1992, and then in the mid-1990s, Forbes moved on to an online presence, named “Forbes Digital Tool”.

*Fun Fact- Three years ago, Integrated Whale Media Investments, headed by T.C. Yam, bought a majority stake in Forbes, enabling the company to further expand on the digital side and to move into other areas. Today, Forbes editorial is stronger than ever. 

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