The ad technology space is relatively young but it has chalked up two blockbuster deals: Google's $750 million dollar acquisition of AdMob in 2010 and Twitter's $350 million dollar acquisition of MoPub in 2013.
Now a third deal joins the list and vaults over both transactions: A Chinese consortium of investors just acquired ad tech startup Media.net for $900 million in cash.
For those that don't feel like doing the math, Media.net's acquisition is the largest ad-tech M&A to date. (At least when ad-technology is very strictly defined. There have been a slew of social media acquisitions such as Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr for over $1 billion in 2013 and Facebook’s Instagram $1 billion purchase in 2012).
The consortium is being led by Zhiyong Zhang, chairman of Beijing Miteno Communication Technology, and the plan calls for Miteno to acquire the company as the sole owner.
Getting Close to the Single Stack
Media.net, which is dual-headquartered in New York City and Dubai, connects advertisers to relevant ads via their Yahoo! Bing network. Its publisher inventory is available through major demand-side platforms and ad-exchanges. It also offers a suite of ad technology tools to create and evaluate campaigns. The breadth of its offerings was why the consortium bit, Zhang said.
The ad-tech industry is notoriously compartmentalized and fractured across technologies, companies and geographies, he said. "It is impossible for publishers and advertisers to work with single-feature or single-product vendors without losing material efficiencies and increasing costs. In evaluating this deal, we looked at Media.net's smart investments over many years to build a large and comprehensive technology stack to escape these trends."
A Serial Internet Entrepreneur
The company was founded by serial internet entrepreneur Divyank Turakhia several years ago, which he built into the 800-employee operation that exists today. Media.net manages more than $450 million of annual advertising through its platform, 90 percent of which is generated in the US. Half of its revenue is generated by mobile users.
This is not Turakhia's only profitable exit from a startup he founded, although it could well be his most lucrative.
In 2014, Endurance International Group bought four brands that he co-founded with his brother, Bhavin Turakhia, for approximately $160 million. Turakhia started his first internet business in 1996 when he was 14.
The transaction is now closed, with $426 million paid by the consortium, and the rest to follow as per the agreed payment schedule and definitive agreement. The money from the sale will go into a diversified pool of global investment funds co-owned by Divyank Turakhia and Bhavin Turakhia.