Taboola today became a publicly traded company in the latest stage of its evolution from a startup into a billion-dollar enterprise that provides publishers with a way to generate revenue from native advertising.

Its shares trade under the symbol “TBLA” on the Nasdaq following a deal to be acquired by a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — a publicly traded shell company whose sole purpose is to buy a private company.

“We’ve been wanting to be a public company for a while,” Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of native advertising and content discovery platform Taboola, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “We thought we had the financial performance investors would appreciate. We want to champion the open web.”

The “open web” refers to ad-supported websites outside of the “walled gardens” of social media, internet search and online marketplaces – namely, Facebook, Google and Amazon. The total size of the advertising market on the open web is estimated at $60 billion.

Taboola reported revenue of $303 million and net income of $18.6 million for the first quarter of this year. Last year, it generated $100 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) on $1.2 billion in revenue, Singolda said.

Changing Needs for Financing

Like other startups, Taboola has financing needs have stages of seed funding to possibly being acquired or going public. Taboola has experienced these phases of growth since Singolda came up with the idea for his company 13 years ago. At that time, he found an angel investor who listened to his pitch for creating a service to provide recommendations on what to watch on TV. Taboola gradually added staff, but also experienced early growing pains.

“I almost shut down Taboola three times for having no funding,” he said.

His search for funding in 2011 led him to Sand Hill Road, the famed epicenter of venture capital near Stanford University. He met 30 investors, all of whom declined to provide funding, and eventually found a new fund in New York that invested $1.5 million in Taboola.

“That was the last money we ever needed,” Singolda said. “We turned from that moment in 2012 from generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to over $20 million in in revenue 2014, and over $1 billion in 2020.”

The SPAC financing will help Taboola to expand into providing recommendations for any kind of product — not just publisher content. Singolda also sees the possibility to serve recommendations on any device, including connected TVs.

“There’s an opportunity to transform the open web into a feed of recommendations,” he said.

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