Israeli software company Outbrain is nearing an initial public offering. The firm, whose main product is a content recommendation service, has started preparing a prospectus for the IPO at a company value of about $1 billion, and is expected to try to raise some $200 million to $300 million.
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Outbrain's technology is used by websites to recommend other content and links the reader might find interesting using. the idea is to keep readers on the site and increase traffic to sites - and in doing so increase revenues. Outbrain also allows advertisers to distribute marketing content alongside the recommendations.
Outbrain has revenue-sharing agreements with a number of very high-traffic sites such as USA Today, Boston.com, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Newsweek, The Street, Washington Post, Slate, Daily Beast, CNN and Fox News.
The company completed its fourth fund raising round in December 2011, in which it raised $35 million at a company value of $300 million to $350 million. That brought the total investment in the firm to $64 million. The main investors in Outbrain are Carmel Ventures, Index Ventures, Gemini Israeli Fund, GlenRock, Rhodium, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Private investor Zohar Gilon participated in the second round of funding.
Outbrain was founded in late 2006 by Yaron Galai, one of the founders of Quigo, which was sold to AOL for $363 million in 2007; and Ori Lahav, formerly of Shopping.com. The company has its research and development center in Netanya and its headquarters is located in New York.
In August, Outbrain's systems were exploited by the Syrian Electronic Army to hack websites of the Washington Post, New York Times, Time Magazine and CNN.