Advertising and Content Network Adconion Prepping to Go Public

By Michael Carney , written on June 21, 2012

From The News Desk

Online advertising and content network Adconion Media Group is about to file its registration statement to go public, PandoDaily has learned from multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The paperwork has been ready for a while, from what we hear. The company was originally aiming at a May IPO, with bankers dangling a potential $2 billion valuation over their heads. That price may not be quite as high in a post-Facebook IPO Clusterfuck world, but we hear the company has the numbers to get out, market conditions be damned. The company has a board meeting scheduled for next week where there will likely be a discussion about the situation. It could quickly go from “getting ready to file” to “filed.”

Adconion, which is based in London but has its operations in Santa Monica, CA, started in Germany in 2006 as a European advertising network under the name of EuroClick. It has raised $114 million, with the latest round taking place in May 2011. Investors include Index Ventures, Wellington Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. Adconion has also completed a series of acquisitions beginning in 2008, including smartclip, Joost, RedLever,, and Frontline Direct. (We reached out to the company comment on this article, but they declined.)

The company has more than 800 employees worldwide and operates 16 offices in eight countries including in Los Angeles, New York, London, and München. Its subsidiaries include US-based multi-channel distribution platform Adconion Direct, digital media and content syndication platform smartclip (consolidated with Joost), branded content development studio RedLever, and technology licensing and managed services company Magnify Platform Services.

Although it does not publicly disclose its financial results, our sources say that Adconion is profitable with 2012 revenues on pace to exceed $400 million and significant year over year growth. Adconion’s core ad-network is neither its sexiest nor its most profitable business unit. We hear that Adconion Direct -- its email marketing arm -- is the workhorse generating as much as $150 million in revenue with nearly $30 million in profits.

On its website, the company claims to reach more than 325 million monthly unique users (previously indicating that as much as 20 percent of which are in the US), or 25 percent of the worldwide Internet connected population.

Given that the JOBS Act now allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue to file in secret, we wondered if the company had already filed its F-1 registration statement, and we just don’t know about it yet. (It’s an F-1 not an S-1, because Adconion is a foreign company.) Indeed, we’ve been hearing that several companies are considering this as a way to privately test market interest before publicly announcing the IPO in the wake of the Facebook IPO Clusterfuck. But we have heard that this is not the case.

Our sources suggest that the main goal of the IPO is liquidity for early investors and employees. Given the company is profitable and raised a large secondary offering last year, accessing additional capital was not a driving factor, we hear. Adconion isn’t a natural acquisition candidate either, given its size and various business units that don’t necessarily fit together well.

Adconion wouldn’t be the first sizeable technology company to list in the wake of the botched Facebook IPO, LegalZoom and beat Adconion to those dubious honors. But the market response to Adconion will be an interesting barometer of just how pissed off Wall Street still is. Although Adconion is nowhere close to being a household name, like Facebook it is part technology company, part media company. As such, investors may struggle over how to value the company.

It’s daunting no doubt, but the startup ecosystem can’t mourn the Netscape-moment-that-wasn’t forever.