Media & Entertainment

Taboola Gets $117M From Comcast, Other Strategics To Boost Its Content Recommendation Platform


Taboola — the recommendation platform that provides 200 billion content suggestions to 550 million users each month, and analytics to publishers and brands about what’s getting people clicking (and what is not) — is today announcing a huge funding round of $117 million on a valuation just shy of $1 billion.

Taboola will use the money to turbo charge its business, CEO Adam Singolda tells me, with the three goals being platform enhancements such as personalised recommendations based on device and place; more international markets, and more acquisitions. “This round will help us go to the next level as a company,” he says simply.

It comes as the Taboola — which competes with Outbrain but also potentially Google and Yahoo — remains mum on when or if it may ever go public, and potential acquisition approaches. “An IPO is not something that we rule out,” among “different options” he says. “We thought for now this was the right option.”

If — after big funding rounds for sites like Buzzfeed, Vox and Mashable, and big exits for content plays like Maker Studios — you had any doubt that content was in the ascendant in both the tech and venture worlds, Taboola’s story should help put that idea to rest.

Taboola is not giving out a post-money valuation but we understand from reliable sources that it is just shy of $1 billion (and that reports of a higher valuation are not accurate). The seven year-old company is currently bringing in $200 million in revenues annually and has been profitable for the last six quarters.

On its own, the oversubscribed Series E is nearly three times as much as the company had raised to date ($40 million). But what’s just as notable is the list of strategic investors that are backing it. Alongside lead investor Fidelity Management and Research Co, also participating are Advance Publications (Condé Nast’s parent), Comcast Ventures, Mr. Carlo De Benedetti (Chairman of the Italian publishers Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso), Groupe Arnault (of LVMH fame), Yahoo! JAPAN (but not Inc.), and another unnamed investor.

This speaks to how Taboola is already being used across major web properties, but also to how publishers and brands are pinning hope on services that are driving more traffic to their content and their web properties.

That’s an increasingly important and challenging task, given the rise of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which could just as easily serve as replacements for the sites themselves (how many times have you read a headline in your timeline and chose not to click?) as they can drive traffic to them.

You’ve been Taboola’d

If you’ve ever been unable to resist a click on one of those thumbnails at the bottom of an article on the web that leads to articles about botched plastic surgeries, or top 10 pension mistakes, then chances are you’ve been Taboola’d. ComScore last year said that the company was actually seeing more reach on desktop in the U.S. than Facebook, Yahoo, and AOL covering 86% of users, with USA TODAY, NBC and FOX Sports among the hundreds of sites that use its widgets.

Started when Singolda was fresh out of the army in Israel — where more than half of the staff continues to work on engineering, with a U.S. HQ in New York — Taboola was created when Singolda he and his friends decided it was impossible to find anything good to watch on TV despite dozens of channels.

“We decided that what was needed was a way for videos to find people, a search engine in reverse,” he says.

Later that idea was expanded to other kinds of content, and a wider range of services, such as the platform that lets editors push stories for recommendation and monitor how well they do; the ability to A/B test different headlines on their home pages to see how they work; and the ability to recommend not just content but also products and services (by way of a recent acquisition of Perfect Market).

The recommendation widget and related analytics are actually free for publishers to use. Where Taboola makes money is in each click that it drives to a subsequent site, and it has developed a kind of AdWords-style marketplace with a CPC rate attached to those clicks.

While a lot of the work that Taboola has done to date has focused around how users interact with desktop websites, today the goalposts are shifting.

“Seven years ago most of the web was driven by search and large screen sizes,” he says. “Now traffic can come from Facebook, apps, tablets, phones. You have people who read your stories on your site, but also in syndication, or watch a related video component,” he says. “We are investing to map that context better and to bubble up relevant results, as well as actionable data so that publishers can better respond.”

That will also include adding in more “native” advertising — also known as sponsored content — and other types of suggested links.

The move to make the content suggestions better comes also at a time when potential forays into more advertising recommendations may be challenged: there have been reports that Taboola and others like Google and Amazon are paying fees to popular service Adblock to get around its advertising blocking technology. No comment on this for now from Singolda.

As for the name, Singolda gets asked about it a lot and says it is a spin on “tabula rasa.”

“It has interesting meaning that relates to our business where you’re trying to solve a mathematical equation and you don’t know the variables in advance, so you have to try until you get there,” he tells me. “It’s also sometimes used compared to raising a baby that’s constantly growing and changing.”

More TechCrunch

Consolidation is here in cybersecurity, as bigger players in the space pick up startups that will help them grapple with the ever-expanding attack surface for enterprises as they move more…

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up its machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

21 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’