What Happened to Adap.TV’s IPO?

Published on August 7, 2013
by Peter Kafka

ArrowsAdap.TV had filed with the SEC this year to go public, but didn’t. Instead, the company sold to AOL for $405 million.

Why not stay independent? I asked CEO Amir Ashkenazi after the AOL earnings call this morning, and he gave an upbeat answer about wanting to transform TV and video advertising, and how that vision was aligned with Tim Armstrong’s, etc.

Could be true!

If you were a skeptical person, you would note that Tremor Media, another Web video ad tech company, went public in June, and has struggled. You might also note that YuMe, another video ad tech company, is going public this morning, and things don’t look so great with that deal, either.

Here Ashkenazi has a more nuanced answer: Those two companies aren’t anything like his, he said — they’re ad networks, in the arbitrage business. And he’s an ad technology company, selling software, not impressions.

The question is whether the market would have picked up on that difference, or lumped Adap.TV in with the other guys. But now that’s academic.

The reason that there’s no record of Adap.TV filing with the SEC, by the way, is because the filing was done confidentially. That’s a new option made available to just about anyone who goes public now, via the new JOBS Act, and just about everyone is taking advantage of it. It’s interesting to imagine what would have happened if its filings had been out in the open.

On to the deal itself: Tim Armstrong and his executives spent almost all of their earnings call explaining the thinking behind Adap.TV. That makes sense, because it’s the biggest deal Armstrong has made since he started running AOL in 2009. But if you don’t want to spend an hour-plus listening to a replay of that call, you can see an 11-minute version here, via CNBC:

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