Taboola, which was founded in Israel and is now based in New York, is profitable, according to Singolda, who had projected gross sales of $ 1.2 billion last year – $ 379 million in net sales excluding payouts to publishers.
In late 2019, Taboola saw a path to even greater growth in the merger with Outbrain, his Chumbox arch-rival. That October, in a long-awaited deal, the two announced plans to join forces under the Taboola name.
Within a year the financial situation of both companies had changed. Antitrust authorities in the UK and Israel are still investigating the deal. The pandemic drew more viewers online, but it also forced websites to reevaluate their spending and get “much leaner and meaner,” Singolda said.
The merger fell apart in September.
But shortly thereafter, Gilad Shany, an Israeli financier, raised nearly $ 259 million for ION Acquisition Corp 1, a SPAC that aimed to buy another Israeli company “to build a global player.”
He and Mr. Singolda discussed a combination that would bring Taboola to the public by essentially giving him the ION stock market ticker. This is a faster, safer way to get companies into the public market, which has helped make SPACs one of the finance industry’s biggest obsessions.
Mr Singolda said an IPO would give Taboola more financial resources, especially the ability to sell publicly traded shares – which could help it make more acquisitions. (In addition to the money from the ION Fund, Taboola raised an additional $ 285 million, including from Fidelity, BlackRock, and others.)
“We believe this can be five times what it is today,” said Shany, who will join Taboola’s board of directors. “You don’t have to think so far to think so big.”