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Summary:

Outbrain, the biggest of the content engines that help publishers serve suggested stories and ads, will reportedly seek $200 million from Wall Street in 2014.

Yaron Galai Outbrain CEO

Outbrain, a startup that helps publishers like CNN and USA Today serve stories and ads to readers, will reportedly seek $200-$300 million from Wall Street in an initial public offering. The long-rumored IPO would be among the biggest in a parade of ad tech companies that have gone public in recent months.

The impending filing was reported by Israeli news sources, including Haaretz, which said Outbrain is seeking a valuation of $1 billion; other Israeli reports pegged the valuation at $700-800 million. Outbrain’s forecast revenue for 2013 is $130 million, a figure buttressed by recent acquisitions.

Update: the company has also hired its first CFO, Jeff Davison, who held the same post at publicly-traded RighNow Technologies.

Outbrain, which has its headquarters in New York, is run by Yaron Galai, a longtime ad tech veteran who sold his first company to AOL for $340 million in 2004 while under fire in Gaza.

The company’s business model involves providing software to publishers that helps keep readers on their site by suggesting follow-up stories. Outbrain makes money by including ads among these suggested stories, and taking a cut of the revenue. Its primary competitor is Taboola, which recently raised $15 million and is now letting readers customize the ads and stories they see.

Outbrain, which wants to grab business from Google AdWords, is the biggest in a pack of companies — including nRelate and Disqus —  that vie to supply content recommendation services.

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  1. Wow, a related stories widget is worth $1 billion.

  2. How about some comments from vendors who actually advertised on their platform? Any success/failures to share?

    1. My experience:
      a) poor contextual placement
      b) click click click with zero engagement

  3. We used http://www.virurl.com to help promote our content and articles pertaining to Spreadsheets App and it yielded successfully. The platform is easy to use and allows us a cost effective way to get our potential customers the content we desire in their hands.

  4. I’m the CEO of Jumpstartfund and prefer to use http://www.virurl.com as well, the last story we promoted on virurl was even retweeted by Elon Musk!

  5. At a big media company, we used Outbrain on several sites… we used it two ways, both successful.

    1- As an advertiser. Inbound traffic came from other high-quality sites–all reported in their system. Our internal data consistently showed traffic from OB drove more engagement (content per visit) and frequency (return rates) than avg, moreso than organic search and more in line with social media. Very solid.

    2- To promote our own content. Feeding our own links into OB to have them run related content on our sites drove 2x-3x performance above other ways of manually curating or automating the same widgets. Essentially, free traffic.

    Saying Outbrain is just a “related stories widget” is a like saying Google is just a page with blue links on it…

  6. I am working on a similar ‘technology’ to Outbrain… why? Because if this can be valued at one billion dollars, I too am jumping on the band wagon.

    Any ideas or suggestions can be forwarded to myself.

    (On a serious note, I am working on this. I have the back end serving ads and am working on creating a user portal as we speak)

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