Blackstone gets Liftoff

Darren Sinden

Spending on programmatic advertising in 2021 is forecast to reach $147.0 billion up from the $127.0 billion that is estimated to have been spent in 2020

One of the worlds largest investors has remained active over the holiday period.

Blackstone which oversees $548 billion of assets across private equity, hedge funds, real estate and credit and insurance markets has made an acquisition.

Blackstone’s private equity division has $98.0 billion under management and $38 billion of that on hand to invest in both established industries and growth sectors.

In recent times Blackstone PE participated in the acquisition of a significant stake in the Thomson Reuters finance and risk business, now known as Refinitv, which was itself acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group for $27.0 billion, a transaction that only received approval from EU competition authorities at the beginning of December.

Blackstone’s PE business currently has some 97 investments within its portfolio. The latest admission into the Blackstone stable will be digital marketing start-up Liftoff which was founded back in 2012.

The business is a specialist in mobile advertising, its systems and technology deliver around 1.0 billion adds per day spread across 90 countries and more than 500,000 digital publishing outlets.

Liftoffs USP is its use of machine learning and predictive AI techniques that help it to deliver scaled audiences of frequent app users to its customer base. Who are typically app developers and publishers including those in the on online gaming and e-commerce spaces, and those who have regularly recurring or subscription revenues.

Blackstone has previously invested in digital advertising and marketing spaces and Co-Head of U.S. Acquisitions for Blackstone’s Private Equity Group, Martin Brand, said that: “Liftoff is an independent leader in the marketplace for mobile ads. Blackstone has significant experience investing in the fast-growing mobile ecosystem, and we are excited to back Mark and his team as they continue the rapid growth of Liftoff.”

Additionally, Mark Ellis Ceo and Co-founder of Liftoff said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Blackstone, one of the premier private equity firms in the world” adding that “Blackstone’s expertise will be invaluable as we continue to scale our company globally, expand our product offerings and help more mobile marketers build a growing audience of engaged users for their mobile experiences.”

Blackstone will invest $400 million into Liftoff for a majority shareholding in the business which is based in Redwood City California and employs 290 staff.

Spending on programmatic advertising in 2021 is forecast to reach $147.0 billion up from the $127.0 billion that is estimated to have been spent in 2020 and 106.0 billion in 2019.

Automated digital advertising continues to take a significant and growing slice of global advertising revenues, which though diminished in 2020 are still forecast to run to around $569.0 billion for the year and grow once more in 2021.

Three weeks ago another business in the digital advertising space PubMatic (tickerPUBM) which allows publishers and app developers to sell space to advertisers across various media, including mobile apps and the mobile internet. IPO’d at $25.00 and its shares traded as high $33.16 on debut, the current market cap of PubMatic is $1.34 billion.

Whilst at the other end of the spectrum Tradedesk, one of the market leaders in online advertising is valued at $38.40 billion.

Whether Liftoff will remain permanently in the private markets under Blackstone’s umbrella or whether it will IPO’d in due course remains to be seen, and though this may have been the last deal in the space in 2020. Digital advertisers are likely to be hot properties in 2021 as well.

Read this next

Executive Moves hires Ahmed Negm, a popular market analyst on CNBC, Sky News, Bloomberg’s Asharq

“Ahmed’s expertise and passion for understanding the intricacies of the financial markets will be invaluable as we continue to grow our client base and expand into new jurisdictions.”

Institutional FX

ATFX uses blockchain to help clients verify IBs and vice versa

ATFX said it has been working on the IB verification project for a few months.

Industry News

Research market in dire straits as SEC’s ‘no-action’ letter on MiFID II lapses in June – survey

“Of all the regulatory news that has hit the research market in the last few months, this is the one change that will fundamentally impact what fund managers can access and pay for in future.”

Executive Moves

Wombat appoints ex-abrdn Richard Charnock as UK platform turns to Europe

Launched in 2019, Wombat provides a dedicated mobile investing platform – available on both iOS and Android – offering users both range and choice.

Institutional FX

Broadridge integrates Point Focal’s pre and post-market reports

“Point Focal provides a unique lens on the market which will help add alpha to the trading process and these new insights will rapidly improve performance while mitigating execution risk and simplify trading.”


XCritical integrates with Brokeree Solutions, allowing its clients to launch copy trading 

The forex software provider – XCritical, has integrated Social Trading by Brokeree Solutions into their CRM system.

Industry News

HKEX partners with Saudi exchange for cross listings, ESG, Fintech

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the broader Middle Eastern region, are one of the world’s most dynamic and exciting economic and innovation hubs and also home to some of the fastest growing investor groups in the world. Hong Kong and HKEX’s markets offer significant opportunities for international investors and corporates, including unrivalled connectivity to the Mainland Chinese markets through our unique Connect programmes. This agreement signals the beginning of even greater collaboration between our companies and our home markets, and we look forward to exploring many future areas of cooperation.”

Executive Moves

CMC Markets Connect relocates APAC team led by Peter Foster to Singapore

“Singapore is a vibrant city and is now undoubtedly seen as Asia’s leading financial hub. The decision to bolster the CMC Markets Connect team here will help us cement the company’s position as a leading provider of multi asset liquidity and comprehensive trading solutions across the region.”

Retail FX

Italian watchdog red flags Olympus Brokers, UnicoFX and Allfina Group

Italy’s Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) has shut down new websites in an ongoing clampdown against firms it accuses of illegally promoting investment products in the country.