Taboola to list with $2.6bn valuation following ION Acquisition Corp merger

Taboola has entered into a merger agreement with special purpose acquisition company ION Acquisition Corp. that will see the content discovery and native ad platform begin trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The platform has secured approximately $285 million in primary and secondary PIPE financing from institutional investors, and is set to be listed at an implied $2.6 billion valuation.

Taboola founder & CEO Adam Singolda

Institutional investors are anchoring the PIPE including Baron Capital Group, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Hedosophia, the Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds and others.

Taboola expects to have $600 million of cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet at closing, and in 2021 plans to invest more than $100 million in R&D growth initiatives including AI, eCommerce, TV, and device manufacturers.

The combined company will operate under the Taboola name and will trade on the NYSE under the new symbol “TBLA”.

Founder and CEO Adam Singolda said the listing is a significant landmark for the company. “Taboola is embarking on an exciting new journey as a public company, a milestone only made possible by years of trusted partnerships with tens of thousands of digital properties and advertisers who I want to personally thank for believing in Taboola and me for years.

“Today, we’re proud of the Taboola team that has made us a ubiquitous presence on the open web and for helping to bring our category-defining technology to market.

“Aside from our technology and team, Taboola’s success is built on a simple idea – deliver value to our partners in a way where we only grow if our partners grow, in a true win-win manner. This is in stark contrast to ‘walled gardens’ of closed ecosystems that don’t always have their partners’ best interests in mind.”

Taboola, founded in 2007, enables digital property owners to harness the value of AI-driven recommendations and offers advertisers a way to effectively access users in the open web.

In late 2019 Taboola and competitor Outbrain announced plans for a merger. Under the original plan, Taboola was to acquire Outbrain for US$250 million in cash and 30% equity of the combined company, which was set to be led by Taboola CEO Singolda and have more than 2,000 employees.  The merger was called off in September 2020 amid regulatory hurdles and disagreements. At the time, the companies said the combination of the platforms would make it more efficient for advertisers looking to buy sponsored links across the web and that the new company would increase revenue for publishers thanks to increased investment in technology and product.

The company estimates the open web to be approximately $64 billion in 2020, which presents considerable opportunity.

Singolda added: “As we move forward, there is immense opportunity for Taboola to continue to be the champion for the open web, and those who do business there. Over the next 10 years I see Taboola growing to power recommendations for anything, such as eCommerce, games, applications, and I see those recommendations everywhere, on every device.

“They will live on our connected TVs at home, recommending shows people love, as well as in people’s cars surfacing content they love, podcasts, and text-to-audio from the open web. I’m excited to have Gilad Shany join our board and journey, and I’m pleased to welcome the ION family of investors and supporters.”

The boards of directors of both Taboola and ION unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, subject to approval by the shareholders of each company.

ION CEO Gilad Shany said; “We believe Taboola is an open web recommendation leader that is well positioned to challenge the walled gardens. We were looking to merge with a global technology leader with Israeli DNA and we found that in Taboola.

“The combination of long-term partnerships built by the company with thousands of open web digital properties, their direct access to advertisers, massive global reach and proven AI technology, allows Taboola to provide significant value to their partners while also achieving attractive unit economics as the company grows.

“We are excited to join in the early innings of this growth journey alongside a tenured executive team with a strong track-record of exceptional execution.”


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