As strange as it might sound, cable company Cox Enterprises is acquiring Adify, according to the Washington Post (although it wouldn’t be so strange if the acquirer was actually parent company Cox Enterprises, which owns various media properties including Cox Communications).
The deal would make it a ten-bagger for investors Venrock, US Venture Partners, NBC’s Peacock Equity fund, and Time Warner, who put in a total of $27 million over the past two years. This will be the second Internet advertising startup founders Larry Braitman and Richard Thompson sold for big bucks. The first one was Flycast Communications, which CMGI (remember them?) bought in 1999 for $2.3 billion, after it went public.
Adify is an ad
network platform for niche publishers that lets advertisers and publishers contact each other and negotiate directly for ad space. It also lets Websites reject advertisers, and lets large publishers such as the Washington Post create their own ad networks. Comscore doesn’t even rank it among the top 50 ad networks.
So what would Cox, a cable company, want with it? Well, ad networks are still kinda hot, and there is always the greater fool theory. Or maybe they like the technology, and want to apply it to targeted TV ads through Project Canoe. No official word yet from either company.
Update: As Adify CEO Russ Fradin points out below, Adify is better described as a platform and services company, not a network.
Update 2: We’ve confirmed that the purchase was actually made by Cox Enterprises, not Cox Communications. And the price was indeed $300M, with significant upside for employees. Adify will continue to operate as an independent company with management staying onboard. Cox appears to have acquired Adify for its growth potential and the possible synergies it has with other in-house properties such as the Travel Channel and AutoTrader. There’s no plan to branch out into TV ads, and therefore no Project Canoe connection to speak of. It would be incorrect to describe Adify as an ad network since it actually provides the technology and back office services required for other companies to run their own vertical ad networks (180 total so far).