Taboola goes public via SPAC, shares rise

Digital advertising company Taboola launched Wednesday morning on its first day of trading after its merger with ION Acquisition Corp. 1, a company for special acquisitions, down 5%.

ION shareholders voted in a special meeting on Monday to approve the business combination. The transaction will raise $ 526 million upon completion and the shares will trade on the Nasdaq on Wednesday under the ticker “TBLA”.

Taboola places content recommendation boxes on publishers’ websites (including CNBC). These boxes recommend content from a publisher’s own website along with advertised slots that advertisers pay for. Taboola makes money when it is paid for by advertisers and shares that revenue with the publisher. The company says more than 13,000 advertisers use its network to reach over 500 million daily active users on the websites of more than 9,000 publishers.

The company reported sales of $ 303 million and net income of $ 18.6 million for the first quarter of 2021.

Taboola sees his opportunity in the tens of billions of dollars that are spent on advertising on the “open web” or on the Internet on pages outside the “walled gardens” of Google or Facebook.

“There is no Google for the open web, there is no Facebook for the open web, there is no large company serving publishers on the open web and giving advertisers access to this open web, and Taboola wants to be that company,” said founder and CEO Adam Singoldaa in an investor presentation earlier this year.

He said the company’s recommendation engine will help display feed-like streams of content based on users’ interests – think an Instagram feed, but on a publisher site.

“When I think of our business, I think of Taboola as a search engine, but vice versa,” he said in the presentation. “Instead of expecting people to type in things they know and look for information like travel information, news or products, Taboola offers them recommendations for content and things that they might like but never knew existed. ”

The future of Taboola will be in recommendation engines for items that go beyond articles, such as e-commerce items, videos, games or apps, Singolda said.

“I want to recommend more things,” he said in an interview with CNBC last week. Singolda said he believes recommendation engines will be an important part of the open web moving forward.

The company is also trying to place recommendations for more devices like cars and connected TVs.

“For the next 10 years, I think that younger audiences in particular will interact with others [devices], we want to take advantage of all of this content index that we have around the world … and expose it everywhere, ”he said.

Taboola and competitor Outbrain announced in October 2019 that they were planning a merger in hopes of becoming a bigger competitor to digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook. But almost a year later, the merger talks ended after the companies failed to agree on revised terms. Outbrain applied for an IPO on Tuesday.

The company is the latest in a line of ad tech players to go public in recent months, including PubMatic, Viant, and Kubient.

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