Taboola and Outbrain end talks to merge after nearly a year

Taboola founder and chief executive Adam Singolda

Andreas Rentz | Getty Images

Nearly a year after announcing a deal to unite, merger talks between digital advertising companiesTaboola and Outbrain have ended, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The companies place content boxes with headlines such as “8 Celebs Who Have Severe Illnesses” or “I Gave HelloFresh A Taste. Here’s Why I’m Never Going Back” and also deliver traditional web ads, pulling in revenue for the publisher websites that they sit on. The end of the merger talks were first reported by Israeli publications and confirmed to CNBC by a source familiar with the deal. 

The companies announced the merger in October 2019, saying that together they would reach 2 billion people a month and give advertisers more “meaningful choice” outside of the “walled gardens” of Facebook and Google, which dominate the digital advertising ecosystem. In the terms of the original deal, Outbrain shareholders would have received shares representing 30% of the combined company plus $250 million in cash, the companies said at the time. 

Though the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to challenge the deal after investigating it, the merger was also delayed by antitrust scrutiny in U.K. and in Israel.

But with so much time passed and a bump in business on the Taboola side this year, Taboola sought to change the terms of the deal and pay less than half than the 2019 terms, and the companies couldn’t reach an agreement, the source said. 

Taboola declined to comment. Outbrain didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

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