Blackstone acquires all-star app-install company Vungle in a $750m cash deal
Private equity firm Blackstone said Monday that it intends to acquire Vungle, an ad tech company widely regarded as a capable alternative to Google and Facebook when it comes to getting consumers to download, install apps.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, a person with direct knowledge of the transaction said that Blackstone paid roughly $750 million for Vungle in an all cash deal.
Blackstone did not immediately respond for comment.
Vungle specializes in creating custom-tailored ads using brand first-party data to get consumers to download and install apps. The company has a roster of all-star clients that include the NFL, P&G, Pandora, Microsoft and Warner Brothers. The 8-year-old ad tech outfit has also had an unusual ride ever since it was included as Slide No. 27 of Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report.
Prior to the report, Vungle was a relatively unknown company, but the Meeker report shone such a large spotlight on it that then CEO and co-founder Zain Jaffer told Ad Age that “large investors, the type that you would dream about reaching out to you, are courting you and your board … I’m being asked what I would do if I had an ‘extra $100 million or $200 million.’”
Back then, Vungle was mulling over whether it should go public.
Roughly four months after the Meeker report, however, a slew of serious charges were levied against Jaffer, prompting Vungle’s board to immediately dismiss the company's co-founder and CEO. The charges against Jaffer were later dismissed in July 2018; Jaffer later filed suit against his own company for wrongful termination in March 2019.
In a statement issued Monday, Blackstone and Vungle said they “also reached a settlement agreement with founder Zain Jaffer and is pleased to have this matter resolved.” They did not disclose terms.
“Prior to finalizing the agreement for Vungle’s acquisition, Vungle and I reached a settlement that resulted in the dismissal of the wrongful termination case," Jaffer said in an emailed statement. "I am pleased with the terms of the settlement, which are confidential.”
Meanwhile, current Vungle CEO Rick Tallman said Blackstone will further accelerate Vungle’s growth. "As we look ahead at the significant opportunity in the in-app mobile advertising market, with Blackstone’s support, we will aggressively expand our global platform through organic and inorganic growth,” Tallman said in a statement.
Global app downloads exceeded 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016, according to App Annie’s State of Mobile Report, which added that consumer spend in apps reached $101 billion during the same year, up 75 percent from 2016.