How Forbes magazine was started
Steve Forbes writes in the latest issue of Forbes magazine, which is celebrating its 100th centennial, about how his grandfather Bertie Charles Forbes started the publication in 1917.
Forbes writes, “B.C. became a nationally renowned financial writer, not only reporting and turning out a syndicated column but also authoring books. Yet, instead of just writing about individuals who started their own firms, he itched to start one himself. And being a Scotsman, B.C. hated not using all the material he gathered. (He would have loved being able to blog to his heart’s content.) He felt the time had come to start his own publication. It was originally titled Doers and Doings, but B.C. was persuaded to use his surname, a not-uncommon practice in those days.
“B.C. Forbes deeply believed in what we today call entrepreneurial capitalism. He loved chronicling the doings of business leaders–the bolder, the better. He was no apologist, however. He railed against those he felt were abusing employees or were incompetently managing their firms. He stated in the first issue of Forbes, ‘Business was originated to produce happiness, not to pile up millions.’ He had no truck with the notion that we are ultimately governed by impersonal forces.
“Forbes boomed during the 1920s. William Randolph Hearst, the media mogul who was the model for Orson Welles’ classic film Citizen Kane, offered to buy B.C.’s creation in 1928 for what today would be the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars. B.C. proudly turned him down. He soon had cause to wonder if he had made a catastrophic mistake.
“Forbes was hit hard by the Depression. By 1932, the company was bankrupt in all but name, as advertising had contracted more than 80%. B.C. kept his creation alive through his freelance earnings — he was still a columnist for the Hearst papers — and by instituting what was dubbed ‘Scotch week’: Every fourth week employees went without a paycheck, which meant a 25% pay cut.”
Read more here.