Viant Separates From Meredith As Ad Industry Buybacks Become More Common
Ad-tech company Viant completed a company buyout earlier this week that the co-founders say allows them to “take back control” from Meredith Corporation.
The transaction includes the 60% of Viant that Meredith acquired from Time in January 2018. Both companies agreed to extend their long-standing commercial data agreement, but financial terms were not disclosed.
The Vanderhooks declined to reveal the names of the 40% owners or detail the reasons for the buyback, but in a statement Viant CEO and co-founder Tim Vanderhook said the company’s independence will let it further expand its identity resolution capabilities by creating additional partnerships similar to what was done with Meredith.
As Viant reaches a 40% year-on-year growth rate with record U.S. revenue, the move follows the launch of a flat subscription fee software and a software-as-a-service model for its demand-side platform (DSP) Adelphic. The company’s strategy is to remain independent.
Viant isn’t the only recent buyback. David Rodnitzky, an entrepreneur and founder of 3Q Digital — a digital agency originally known for its search services — sold his agency to Harte Hanks and then bought it back.
“After a long series of discussions with outside acquirers, it became apparent that none of the potential buyers understood the true value of 3Q, … So my team and I executed a management buyout (MBO) to take the company private again,” Rodnitzky wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily.
In early 2019, 3Q accepted a growth equity round from Erie Street Capital and PSP Capital.
“Suffice to say, for the last four years, the decision to sell, and buy back, my business has been top of mind for me, and I’ve had more than a few sleepless nights trying to decide when to sell,” he wrote. “[More] importantly, how to create a construct in my mind to be smart about this decision.”
Rodnitzky explains that usually, the decision to sell or buy back a business relies on a variety of financial factors, including some that he notes as macro- and microeconomic conditions, specific business performance, and value and terms of the offer.
His decision was not. He based it more on emotional considerations. “Selling your business is, as the cliché goes, like selling your baby,” he wrote. “I have talked to founders who have had very successful sales and shortly thereafter have seen their previously happy marriage end in divorce. That’s largely because the founders didn’t realize how much not being an entrepreneur would change the dynamics of their relationships.”
When accessing the emotional consequences of such decisions, he wrote, consider the importance of control and whether you are tired or just getting started, as well as the importance of growing the business, and how much risk will you take.
“All the money, all the power, and all the success in the world is secondary to the ultimate goal: happiness,” he wrote. “Selling your business can be one of the best moment in your life or it can be the most regrettable decision you’ll ever make. If you make your decision to sell or not to sell by trying to optimize your happiness, rather than only optimizing for financial gain, you’ll likely end up making the right choice.”