Forbes has announced that Binance, “one of the world’s largest providers of cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure,” is making a $200 million investment to own part of an “iconic business information brand.” That money is part of a $400 million private investment in public equity (PIPE) set up for: Forbes to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
The deal sets an interesting milestone, showing how web3 companies have reached their “let’s have a media outlet” moment, kind of like Time Warner and AOL, or AT&T and Time Warner, or Verizon and AOL, or . .. you get the point.
But this arrangement also brings Binance together with Forbes, the media outlet that sued it for defamation in 2020, claiming to have suffered millions of losses over an article suggesting that Binance’s “extensive corporate structure” was “designed to deliberately mislead regulators and covertly profit from crypto investors in the United States .” Binance dropped that lawsuit early last year and the article remains available on Forbes.com. Binance remains firmly convinced that the Forbes article dated October 29, 2020 is false and misleading,” the company said at the time.
Forbes is also home to a number of articles written by Razzlekhan, aka the Wall Street Crocodile, aka Heather Morgan, who was arrested this week along with her husband, accused by the Justice Department of money laundering $3 .6 billion worth of Bitcoin that was stolen from Bitfinex.
Binance’s press release isn’t subtle about why it might be investing in the media outlet: CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao suggests it’s about buying influence, saying, “As Web3 and blockchain technologies advance and the crypto market matures we know that media is an essential element to build widespread consumer understanding and education.”
Asked directly about investing in light of Morgan’s recent arrest during a separate interview with CNBCZhao hesitated a bit before explaining that “not every news agency is open to investment,” noting: Forbes‘ brand, influence and reputation are very strong, strong enough to outweigh the impact of ‘a contributing writer who happens to be a hacker in her hidden life’.