SEC Filing Gives Clues to Price Time Inc. Paid for MySpace Parent Viant

Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp Expects Viant to Contribute More Than $100 Million in Revenue This Year

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Viant's homepage
Viant's homepage

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, Time Inc. paid $87 million to acquire "certain assets" of Viant, the advertising technology firm and parent company of MySpace, the one-time social media powerhouse.

Time Inc. Senior VP-Corporate Communications and Investor Relations Jaison Blair cautioned Ad Age that it would be difficult to determine the actual sale price because of the complexity of the transaction. Time Inc. has not disclosed what portion of the company it bought, and has not said what other sources of value were associated with the transaction, he said. Mr. Blair said Time Inc. does not generally discuss sale prices, though it meets SEC requirements for corporate transaction disclosures.

Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp, on the company's first-quarter 2016 earnings call Thursday, said the company paid "a very respectable price" for Viant. "We feel very bullish about the acquisition overall," Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Bairstow said on the call.

Time Inc. plans to combine its assets and information with Viant's "people-based" advertising technology, along with MySpace's user data, to help serve marketers. Ad Age spoke recently with Viant's CEO and the company's chief operating officer, who are brothers, about why Time Inc. made sense as a buyer.

Time Inc., as part of the purchase, was able to get a "pretax bargain purchase gain" of approximately $8 million, because "Viant was in need of capital to continue its operations and was unable to secure sufficient capital in the time frame it required," according to the 10-Q filing. But Time Inc. paid $10 million in "transaction costs," stemming in part from payments to some of Viant's vendors.

Mr. Ripp, on the call, called Viant "a great company that had a bad balance sheet."

Now that it's part of Time Inc., Mr. Ripp said expects Viant to contribute "well in excess" of $100 million in digital advertising revenue for the year. Previously, the company had said it expects Viant to contribute approximately $100 million.

Between March 2, when the deal closed, and March 31, Viant brought in $12 million in revenue and $1 million in operating income for Time Inc.

Mr. Ripp, when asked by an analyst, said Time Inc. hasn't broken out the profitability of Viant. But he said early feedback from marketers has been very positive. "I've gotten more positive comments from our advertisers on Viant than most of the things I've done since I've been back," he said.

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