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Content Recommendation Service (And Rumored IPO Candidate) Outbrain Raises Another $35M

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Outbrain is announcing that it has raised $35 million in new funding.

If you’ve ever read an article and found a widget at the bottom recommending stories you might also like (which can come from multiple sites), there’s a good chance those recommendations were provided by Outbrain. It’s not the only content recommendation service, but in my experience it remains the best known.

The company says it has been installed on more than 100,000 sites and has a network of 700 “premium publishers” that includes CNN, Hearst, Rolling Stone, and Fast Company. It also says it serves 100 billion recommendations each month, including both organic and paid recommendations. The company makes money by including sponsored content.

There were reports last month that the company was preparing for an IPO in which it would raise between $100 million and $300 million at a valuation of up to $1 billion (the stories differed on both the amount Outbrain was looking to raise and the valuation). Shortly after that, the company announced that it was hiring its first CFO.

The new funding doesn’t necessarily put the kibosh on those rumors — the company may want some extra cash as it considers going public. I asked an Outbrain spokesperson how the funding might affect any IPO plans, and they said, “We’re looking at this as a fundraising event like any other.”

In the press release announcing the funding, CEO Yaron Galai said Outbrain (which was founded in 2006) is at “a pivotal moment” in its evolution. When I asked him to elaborate, Galai told me via email:

Outbrain has evolved from a start-up into a mature company that has helped to shape the content recommendation space that it created six years ago. We’ve seen incredible growth over the last few years and we now rival Google and Facebook in terms of the page views that we generate. Our goal for the next year is to continue scaling our business and building out our mobile and self-serve products. This funding will enable us to do that as well as continue our expansion into new markets.

Outbrain has now raised a total of $99 million. The latest round was led by HarbourVest Partners, with participation from new investor Vintage Partners and existing investors Carmel Ventures, Index Ventures, Gemini Israel Funds, GlenRock Israel, Rhodium, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.