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.

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