Moses writes, “Fortune has a meager online presence, having been a channel of JV partner CNNMoney.com over the course of their 8-year partnership. (Fortune doesn’t say what its dedicated traffic is, but one person familiar with the business estimated it to be around 2 million monthly uniques.) Come next May, that partnership is set to dissolve, leaving Fortune on its own to start a new financial news website.
“But that’ll be an uphill battle in a category already crowded with bigger, more established online competitors like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and, of course, Forbes. Forbes would give Fortune instant online scale, with 28 million uniques worldwide (per the company, citing comScore). It also would give Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp a way to boost his digital credibility and appear to be a risk-taker with the Street, as Forbes now gets more than half of its ad revenue from digital. (There’s also been talk that getting a deal done pre-spinoff also benefits Time Inc. because the bill would be paid by Time Warner.)
“A Forbes deal also could accomplish symbolic, but still important goals. Ripp has been trying to change the company’s culture and move into new ad formats. Forbes has built its business on the unorthodox practice of letting advertisers (as well as unpaid outside contributors) publish on the site alongside paid staffers—a controversial move, but one that’s been widely imitated by other online publishers. Forbes expects one-fifth of its ad revenue to come from its BrandVoice native ad platform this year.”
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