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Outbrain plans IPO valued at $1 billion for 2014, hires first CFO

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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(s 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(s goog), is the biggest in a pack of companies — including nRelate and Disqus —  that vie to supply content recommendation services.

8 Responses to “Outbrain plans IPO valued at $1 billion for 2014, hires first CFO”

  1. Rob Gloginja

    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)

  2. Matt Crenshaw

    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…