Taboola, which was started in Israel and is now based in New York, is profitable, according to Mr. Singolda, who said it collected a projected $1.2 billion in gross revenue last year — $379 million in net revenue, excluding payouts to publishers.
In late 2019, Taboola saw a path to even greater growth in a merger with Outbrain, its chumbox archrival. That October, in a long-expected deal, the two announced plans to combine under the Taboola name.
But within a year, both companies’ financial situations had changed. Antitrust regulators in Britain and Israel were still investigating the deal. The pandemic drew more viewers online but also forced websites to re-evaluate their spending and become “way more lean and mean,” Mr. Singolda said.
The merger fell apart in September.
But shortly afterward, Gilad Shany, an Israeli financier, raised nearly $259 million for ION Acquisition Corp 1, a SPAC that aimed to buy another Israeli business “to build a global player.”
He and Mr. Singolda discussed a combination, which would take Taboola public by essentially giving it ION’s stock ticker. It is a quicker and surer way to bring companies to the public markets, which have helped make SPACs one of the finance industry’s biggest obsessions.
Mr. Singolda said going public would give Taboola greater financial resources, notably the ability to sell publicly traded shares — which could help it make more acquisitions. (In addition to the ION fund’s money, Taboola has raised an additional $285 million, including from Fidelity, BlackRock and others.)
“We think this can be five times the size it is today,” said Mr. Shany, who will join Taboola’s board. “You don’t have to think that far to think that big.”