Digital advertising company Taboola will go public after a merger with special acquisition company ION Acquisition Corp.1 on Wednesday. 4,444 ION shareholders voted to approve the business combination at a special meeting on Monday. The transaction will generate 526 million U.S. dollars at the close, and the stock will begin trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday under the symbol “TBLA”.
Taboola places content recommendation boxes on publisher (including CNBC) websites. These charts recommend content from the publisher’s own website, as well as promotional recommendations paid by advertisers. Taboola makes money when paid by advertisers and then shares the revenue with publishers. The company says that more than 13,000 advertisers use its network to reach more than 500 million daily active users on the websites of more than 9,000 publishers.
The company said it reported revenue of $303 million and net income of $18.6 million for the first quarter of 2021.
Taboola sees its opportunity in the tens of billions of dollars spent advertising on the “open web,” or on the internet on sites outside of the “walled gardens” of Google or Facebook
There’s no Google for the open web, there’s no Facebook for open web, there’s no big company serving publishers on the open web and giving advertisers access to that open web, and Taboola wants to be that company,” founder and CEO Adam Singolda said in an investor presentation earlier this year.
He said the company’s recommendation engine will help it surface feed-like streams of content based on users’ interests — think of an Instagram feed, but on a publisher site.
“As I think about our business, I think of Taboola as a search engine but in reverse,” he said in the presentation. “Instead of expecting people to type things they know and look for information, like travel information, news, or products, Taboola is providing them with recommendations for content and things they might like but just never knew existed.”
The future of Taboola will be about recommendation engines for items beyond articles, such as e-commerce items, videos, games or apps, Singolda said.
“I want to recommend more things,” he told CNBC in an interview last week. Singolda said he believes recommendation engines will be a major piece of the open web moving forward.
The company also seeks to place recommendations on more devices, such as cars and connected TVs.
“Over the next 10 years, I think that especially as younger audiences will interact with different [devices], we want to use all of this index of content we have globally … and surface it wherever you might be,” he said.
Taboola and competitor Outbrain said in October 2019 they planned to merge in hopes of becoming a bigger competitor to digital advertising giants such as Google and Facebook. But nearly a year later, the merger talks ended after the companies failed to agree on revised deal terms. Outbrain feild for an initial public offering on Tuesday.
The company is the latest in a slew of ad tech players to go public in recent months, including PubMatic, Viant and Kubient.