Odd as it may appear on the surface, this is actually some very exciting stuff.
The Forbes company and Elevation circled each other for several months — Mr. Forbes and Mr. McNamee both described it as a mating ritual — before getting down to serious negotiations in the last several weeks, concluding Friday with the signing of documents. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but some people said that the deal gave Elevation a stake of more than 40 percent at a cost of $250 million to $300 million.
Those people, however, did not have firsthand knowledge of the transaction, and no one directly involved in the deal would confirm those numbers. Even though Forbes has now taken on partners, it continues to be an exceedingly private enterprise.
Proceeds from the sale will be used both to invest in the business and to pay out money to members of the family.
Mr. McNamee called the alliance with Forbes a “brand-defining moment” for Elevation, a relatively new partnership conceived by a rock star and guided by some of the more successful venture capitalists on the West Coast.
“It says that we are in the business of helping content creators in the traditional media world manage the transition imposed by the Internet,” he said. Bono was not directly involved in the Forbes meetings, but Mr. McNamee said that the singer was attracted to the magazine because it “has a point of view,” adding that Bono “drove this part of the discussion and likes the fact that there has been a consistent philosophy throughout its history.”
But it was clear from talking with Mr. McNamee that his group was buying into a Web site with a magazine attached, as opposed to the other way around. Forbes.com had 10 million unique visitors worldwide, a very robust number, in June, according to comScore Media Metrix.