Talking tech since 2003

Ad tech company Outbrain is reportedly looking to file for an IPO that would value the company between $700 million and $1 billion sometime in 2014.  The reports also say that Outbrain will seek $200-$300 million from Wall Street in the initial public offering.  You may not be familiar with Outbrain by name, but chances are you have interacted with the service.  If you have ever clicked on links under the headings of “Stories from around the web” or “You might also like” it was probably put there by Outbrain.

While Outbrain is the leading playing in the content recommendation/engine space, we also recently covered another growing player, Taboola.  Taboola just launched its new Choice feature that lets readers “Dislike” a particular story, which then teaches the company’s technology to not show that person similar content anymore.

When I spoke with Outbrain a couple of years ago, the company prided itself on wanting to display stories that will likely appeal to the current reader on the page.  It’s part technology, algorithms and other forms of big data crunching, but also part human. The company added in a human element to the mix, every story submitted to Outbrain to be run on its network needs to be manually approved by someone at Outbrain.  In a way they are acting as the arbiter of what is considered “good” or “quality” content.

Now even though Outbrain does in fact manually review each submission, I can’t vouch for the how in-depth or detailed the approval process actually is.  Are they actually reading the content or just skimming it or just ensuring it doesn’t have anything illegal in it? That I can’t say for sure. One thing I have noticed is that some people aren’t very happy with the content distributed through the Outbrain network.

Personally, I’d love to learn more about the content approval/rejection process at Outbrain and what merits a “quality” piece of content that is Outbrain approved. We’ll see what we can dig up.

Update: Despite the hiring of a new CFO new reports state that Outbrain isn’t going public just yet. However, Yaron Galai, Outbrain CEO, told AllThingsD “We’ll keep exploring all funding routes, including the public route, that will help us maintain our leadership.” So it’s definitely on the table, it just may not be happening in 2014.

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