March 4, 2021

Digital ad firm Taboola plans to go public via SPAC

Digital ad company Taboola says it plans to go public via a merger with ION Acquisition Corp., a special acquisition corporation. 

The company places content boxes on sites across the internet with headlines such as “8 Celebs Who Have Severe Illnesses” 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 with the SPAC is expected to close in the second quarter. 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.

“The open web is really important, even essential, because it’s free and diverse and doesn’t belong to any one 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 said 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 that the company has plans to provide recommendations for “anything” — including e-commerce products, apps and games — and that the company wants them to be available “anywhere” on “every device, connected TV, automobile and more.” 

Taboola and competitor Outbrain said in October 2019 they planned to merger 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. 

Nominations are open for the 2021 CNBC Disruptor 50, a list of private start-ups using breakthrough technology to become the next generation of great public companies. Submit by Friday, Feb. 12, at 3 pm EST.

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