Last week, we wrote about Intel chairman Omar Ishrak after he announced the launch of his new blank-check company with $750 million in funding. Now, another well-known digital ad company is joining the SPAC craze.
Today, digital ad startup Taboola said it plans to go public via a merger with ION Acquisition Corp, a special acquisition corporation (SPAC). Founded in 2007 by Adam Singolda, the New York-based Taboola is a content discovery platform that connects people with content they may like but never knew existed.
You’ve probably seen some of the company’s native ads below every blog post you read. Taboola places content boxes on thousands of sites across the internet with catchy headlines such as “Avoid Cropping Mistakes by Following This Gude” or “Look Who’s Going Bankrupt Next in America,” pulling in revenue for the publisher. The company says it’s used by more than 13,000 advertisers to reach over 500 million daily active users.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter, and the combined company will operate under the Taboola name and will trade on the NYSE under the symbol “TBLA.” The deal gives Taboola a pro forma valuation of about $2.6 billion.
Meanwhile, Taboola is not the only ad company going public via SPAC. Bustle Digital Group, Vice, Vox, Group Nine, and Buzzfeed are also in talks about going public via a SPAC or consolidating and then going public, according to a report from CNBC, citing people familiar with the matter.
Blank-check companies (or SPACs) are one of the hottest themes on Wall Street these days and rich investors are eager to jump right in and get their own piece of the pie. SPACs are formed with the intention of acquiring or merging with a private company to bring them public. Part of the reason blank check companies are becoming increasingly popular is that they give companies a different, non-traditional avenue for going public.
“The open web is really important, even essential because it’s free and diverse and doesn’t belong to anyone giant company. Think about every website you love — every game, app on a mobile device or connected TV that lives outside of the walled gardens,” Taboola CEO and founder Adam Singolda wrote in a blog post-Monday.
“But open web companies are dependent on walled gardens that compete against them with more data, more tech, and more advertiser relationships, while advertisers have no choice but to turn to the walled gardens to access users effectively at scale.”
He added in the post that the company has plans to provide recommendations for “anything” — e-commerce products, apps, games, and more — and that the company wants them to be available “anywhere” on “every device, connected TV, automobile, and more.”
In 2109, there was a planned merger between Taboola and rival Outbrain in hopes of becoming a bigger competitor to digital advertising giants such as Google and Facebook. However, the deal fell through and the merger talks ended after the companies failed to agree on revised deal terms.