Mobile ad startup AppLovin in talks for $1.5 billion acquisition

Mobile ad startup AppLovin is in talks with a Chinese buyer for an acquisition of around $1.5 billion, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company.

We have not confirmed the identity of the acquirer. The deal is not yet finalized and details may change.

Founded in 2012 by CEO Adam Foroughi along with Andrew Karam and John Kyrstynak, San Francisco-headquartered AppLovin operates a mobile ad network that helps advertisers target and deliver personalized ads to people who are similar to their existing user base.

The business is profitable and saw $234 million in revenue in 2015. We also hear that the company is projecting $500 million in ad spend on the platform this year.

It’s been an acquisition-heavy period in ad tech — within the Chinese market specifically, Cheetah Mobile bought MobPartner (it’s been making other media-related acquisitions as well), while a group of Chinese Internet companies tried to buy Opera, including its ad business, before settling on just buying the browser. And Southeast Asian telecom company SingTel has also made a number of mobile ad acquisitions through its Amobee division.

AppLovin’s financial position makes it a more desirable acquisition target, and it could help a Chinese buyer move into the United States. (The company has expanded into Europe as well.) Unlike many other Silicon Valley startups, AppLovin didn’t seek venture funding and only raised about $4 million from angel investors.

When we reached out to AppLovin for comment, the company provided us with this statement from Foroughi:

AppLovin is a global business, and as we continue to grow, our business development includes regular dialogue with partners around the world to explore various forms of potential collaboration. Our goal remains to focus on our business and keep our customers our #1 priority. At this stage, we do not have any formal announcement to make.