The 17 biggest ad tech exits of 2016

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The Trade Desk went public in 2016.
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The Trade Desk/Twitter

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out in its end of year media and advertising roundup, a predicted ad tech media bloodbath didn’t happen in 2016.

While most ad tech companies on the public markets still had a torrid time, there were plenty of firms that marked $100 million + exits this year.

And there was even the long-awaited ad tech IPO!

Eric Franchi, cofounder of ad tech company Undertone (which marked its exit, to Israeli firm Perion for $180 million in 2015), has been keeping track of all the large ad tech exits in 2016 with a handy Google spreadsheet.

Scroll down to see all the ad tech firms that were acquired or went public in 2016, in chronological order.


Addthis — ACQUIRED

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AddThis CEO Richard Harris.
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Tech Cocktail/YouTube

What the company does: AddThis began life as a social bookmarking startup that allowed website owners to add social media sharing widgets, with users bookmarking their content using third-party services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. It expanded its services to provide publishers with information about the types of interest their readers had demonstrated on the other sites they visit.

What happened:Oracle acquired AddThis in a deal worth between $100 million and $200 million in January. Sources told Business Insider the sum was toward the latter end of that estimate.


Tapad —ACQUIRED

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Are Traasdahl, Tapad CEO.
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Aegis Reinvention/YouTube

What the company does: Tapad specializes in cross-device technology that gives advertisers a better view of their customers as they switch from smartphone, to desktop, tablet, and smart TV.

What happened: Norwegian telecoms company Telenor acquired Tapad for $360 million in February.


Yodle — ACQUIRED

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Yodle CEO Court Cunningham.
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Brian Ach/Getty Images

What the company does: Yodle provides cloud-based online advertising and marketing services such as search engine optimization to small businesses.

What happened: Yodle had filed for a $75 million IPO in 2014 but that plan was pulled when Web.com acquired the company for $324 million in February.


StickyAds.tv — ACQUIRED

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StickyAds.tv CEO Hervé Brunet.
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@99hbrunet/Twitter

What the company does: StickyAds.tv is an SSP (supply-side platform) that specializes in helping publishers and TV broadcasters sell their video advertising inventory, both online and on TV. The company creates private exchanges so its customers can auction their ads directly to premium advertisers using automated tools, lessening the reliance on their human salesforces.

What happened: StickyAds.tv was acquired by Comcast in May in a deal sources told Business Insider was all-cash and north of $100 million.


Smaato — ACQUIRED

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Smaato CEO Ragnar Kruse.
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LinkedIn

What the company does: Smaato is a mobile supply-side platform that allows mobile developers and publishers to connect their advertising inventory to multiple ad exchanges and demand-side platforms in order to monetize their apps. The company also offers a mobile ad server, a real-time bidding ad exchange, and an ad network mediation platform.

What happened: Chinese marketing firm Spearhead acquired Smaato for $148 million in June. The acquisition was facilitated by an M&A fund invested by one of its subsidiaries.


ReachLocal — ACQUIRED

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ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands.
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ReachLocal

What the company does: ReachLocal offers local digital marketing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.

What happened: Newspaper and digital media holding company Gannett acquired ReachLocal for $156 million in June.


ConvertMedia — ACQUIRED

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Yoav Naveh, ConvertMedia CEO.
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Twitter

What the company does: CovertMedia specializes in “outstream” video advertising formats, that appear within the content of an article and only play when the viewer is looking at the ad unit. It had a revenue run rate of around $50 million.

What happened: Taboola, the content recommendation company, acquired ConvertMedia for a price in the tens of millions of dollars in July. The exact amount was not disclosed, but TechCrunch reported it was “just shy” of $100 million. Taboola too is a company that has long been predicted to have an exit of its own, in the form of an IPO.


Sizmek — ACQUIRED

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Neil Nguyen, Sizmek CEO.
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Sizmek

What the company does: Sizmek is an ad management platform that claims to work with 19,000 advertisers and 3,700 agencies worldwide. It was a public company and at the time of its acquisition had around 1,000 employees.

What happened:Sizmek was acquired by private equity firm Vector Capital in August for $122 million.


Media.net — ACQUIRED

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Media.net CEO Divyank Turakhia
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LinkedIn

What the compay does: Media.net provides the tech for the contextual ads that appear on Yahoo and Bing. The company says it generated $232 million in revenue in 2015.

What happened: In what Media.net touted as the third-largest ad tech deal ever, a group of Chinese investors acquired the company for $900 million in cash in August. The complex deal involves the Chinese consortium selling the firm to Beijing-based telecoms firm Mitento at a later date, in a kind of reverse merger.


Applovin — ACQUIRED

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AppLovin CEO Adam Foroughi.
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AppLovin

What the company does: Applovin is a mobile ad network that was on track to generate almost half a billion dollars in revenue in 2016. Unusually for most ad tech startups, the company had raised very little investment (just $4 million) and claimed to be profitable.

What happened: Applovin was scooped up for $1.4 billion by Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai Capital in September.


The Trade Desk — IPO

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The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green.
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LinkedIn

What the company does: The Trade Desk is a demand-side platform that works with advertising agencies, allowing them to buy online ads using automated technologies.

What happened:The Trade Desk debuted on the Nasdaq in September at $28.75, a pop on the $16 to $18-per-share price the company had set in its S-1, valuing the company at more than $1 billion. It marked the only ad tech IPO in 2016 and the stock was trading at $28.38 at the time of writing.

Read our interview with The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green on his company’s IPO day here.


Krux — ACQUIRED

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Krux CEO Tom Chavez.
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Krux

What the company does: Krux is a data software company that uses artificial intelligence to analyze information from across the web to help marketers identify audience segments.

What happened: In what was probably the most gossiped-about acquisition of the year, Salesforce bought Krux for $700 million in October. Salesforce paid $340 million in cash and the remainder in stock.


Hooklogic — ACQUIRED

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Jonathan Opdyke, Hooklogic CEO
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LinkedIn

What the company does: HookLogic helps retailers generate revenue from their own websites by selling online advertising to CPG companies. It has created a network of retailer sites that allows brands to buy performance ads across a range of relevant ecommerce companies.

What happened: France-based ad tech company Criteo acquired Hooklogic for $250 million in cash in October. Criteo CEO Eric Eichmann told Business Insider the purchase will enable the company to acquire a new vertical of customers: brand manufacturers.


Triad Retail Media — ACQUIRED

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Roger Berdusco, Triad Retail Media.
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Triad Retail Media

What the company does: Triad powers the advertising on the websites of retailers including Walmart, eBay, and Staples.

What happened: Xaxis, the programmatic advertising company owned by WPP, acquired Triad in October for a reported $300 million.


TubeMogul — ACQUIRED

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Brett Wilson, TubeMogul cofounder and CEO.
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TubeMogul

What the company does: TubeMogul specializes in video advertising and offers advertisers a demand-side platform (DSP) to plan, buy, and measure video ads using an automated (programmatic) system. TubeMogul went public in 2014, listing at $7 a share. Its stock was trading at around the same price when the deal was announced.

What happened: Adobe acquired TubeMogul for $540 million net of debt and cash in November. ExchangeWire CEO and founder Ciaran O’Kane described the deal as “changing the rules of the ad tech game,” hinting that it could pave the way for more marketing cloud vendors to buy up ad tech firms in 2017.


Operative — ACQUIRED

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Lorne Brown, Operative CEO.
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Operative

What the company does: Operative licenses technology to help media firms run their online advertising setups.

What happened: Israel-based SintecMedia – which offers a similar service – acquired Operative in a deal valued at just under $200 million in November.


Neustar — ACQUIRED

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Lisa Hook, Neustar CEO.
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Heidrick & Struggles/YouTube

What the company does: Neustar, which was a publicly-traded company before its acquisition, helps telephone carriers route calls and messages. It also provides data and analytics to marketers.

What happened: Neustar announced in December it will be taken private by an investment group led by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in a deal valued at $2.9 billion including debt. The deal is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2017.