Oct 4 2011

Too Lijit


This morning Federated Media announced that it has acquired Lijit Networks in a private stock deal.

I’m incredibly proud of what the Lijit team has accomplished in the almost 4 years we’ve been investors in the business – charting a course that wasn’t exactly always a straight line, but one that has always placed publishers first. As a result of this never wavering focus on web publishers, Lijit has built a large and ultimately very valuable company.

I’ve always thought that Federated was the natural acquirer for Lijit (and we’ve been partners with Federated for some time now). Federated shares Lijit’s focus on publishers (“the best of the independent web”), but unlike Lijit, who helps publishers generate revenue through better monitizing their non-premium inventory, Federated sells unique, high value premium inventory across their federated group of publishers. For a time, Lijit pursued a similar model and having bumped into Federated in many a sales process we can attest to the strength of the Federated sales team. Ultimately Lijit chose a different path – integrating with over 30 buying channels and standing up their own RTB exchange. All the while, Lijit has been rapidly growing the list of publishers they work with by providing not only an advertising channel, but search, analytics and insight tools to help Lijit publishers better understand and engage with their audience.

The fit is a natural one. Federated brings to the combined entity a large and established sales force and the ability for Lijit publishers to access premium content relationships and advertising. Lijit brings a strong technology background, a rapidly scaling publisher base and the ability of both Federated and Lijit publishers to place their inventory to auction through the Lijit exchange.

As part of the acquisition I’ll be joining the Federated Media board of directors (along with Federated founder, John Battelle, FM’s CEO Deanna Brown, FM’s early investor from Panorama Capital Chris Albinson and Fred Harmon of Oak Investment Partners, who led the large Federated financing in 2008). I’m thrilled to be working with such an accomplished group and to continue my close relationship with Lijit through my continued role at Federated Media.

I’d also note that, while the financial details of this transaction haven’t been released, this is a significant win not only for Lijit and its investors, but also a nice outcome for Boulder (Lijit’s offices are in the heart of downtown – just upstairs from the Foundry office, in fact). While ultimately the exit will be measured by the outcome of the combined Lijit/Federated business, based just on this deal’s value alone this ranks as one of the larger transactions for a Denver or Boulder based business in the last decade.

You can read the FM release here (or on their home page, which they’ve completely taken over with the deal announcement), Lijit’s founder and CEO Todd Vernon’s thoughts here and FM’s founder and chairman John Battelle’s post on the deal here.

Congratulations to both the Lijit and Federated teams! This is big!