Taboola merges with special purpose acquisition firm to go public

Digital ad firm Taboola is going public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company ION Acquisition Corp, and the transaction is expected to give Taboola a valuation of approximately US$2.6 billion. The combined unit will operate under the Taboola name and trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the new symbol "TBLA". The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Taboola was founded in 2007 by CEO Adam Singolda and offers recommendations wherever individuals spend time outside of the walled gardens, across websites and within offerings from device manufacturers, mobile apps, and games. Its mission is to ower recommendations for the open web and help people discover things they may like. It currently has more than 9,000 digital properties with long-term, global, and exclusive partnerships including publishers such as CNBC, NBC News, Business Insider, The Independent, and El Mundo. It also has more than 13,000 advertisers partnerships, reaching 516 million daily active users on its network, the company said.

Singolda said in a blog post that the open web is "really important, even essential" because it is free and diverse and "does not belong to any one giant company". "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 explained.

Moving forward, Taboola plans to continue investing in the open web and power recommendations "for anything", from eCommerce products and games to applications, among others. It also wants to power relevant recommendations "anywhere", from every device, to automobiles and connected TVs. Taboola currently has offices in Thailand, India, China, Japan, Turkey, Australia, UK, and France.

In 2019, Taboola entered into a merger with rival Outbrain to compete with the likes of digital ad giants such as Facebook and Google. It was previously said that the merger will see a formation of a US$2 billion company with Outbrain's shareholders getting 30% ownership in Taboola. A year later, however, both companies ended merger talks, CNBC reported quoting its source.

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