Wealthiest African-American Businessman Investing In Another Ad Tech Company

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Written by Ann Brown

Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm founded and led by multi-billionaire businessman Robert Smith, plans to acquire a majority stake in an ad tech company.

Smith is the wealthiest African American, according to Forbes. With a net worth of $4.4 billion, Smith was named one of the 100 greatest business minds alive.

He is the founder, chairman and CEO of  Vista Equity Partners, which focuses on investments in software, data, and tech-enabled businesses. According to its website, Vista has more than $31 billion in cumulative capital commitments.

Vista announced that it will acquire a majority stake in Integral Ad Science (IAS), which was founded in 2009 as AdSafe Media. Integral Ad Science list among its clients Verizon Communications Inc., HP Inc. and Citibank. IAS helps these and other clients prove that their digital ads are being viewed.

Billionaire tech investor Robert Smith
Robert Smith. Photo: Forbes

“Since the beginning, we have recognized the massive potential for digital advertising but also the challenges that undermine its impact,” IAS CEO Scott Knoll said in a press release.  “With the support from Vista, we will continue to focus on enhancing our verification capabilities to protect our customers’ assets while applying our expertise and data to help our clients to influence more consumers and grow their businesses around the globe.”

Smith is probably pretty confident about the acquisition. He once said that he has never lost money on a buyout.

Based in New York City, IAS has offices in 13 countries, and describes itself as the “market leader in verification and optimization–ensuring that every digital ad reaches real consumers in brand-appropriate environments, and has the opportunity to be seen by consumers,” according to a press release.

IAS employs about 600 workers in its various markets and has more than $140 million in revenue, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to Vista, other IAS investors include Sapphire Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, August Capital, and Accomplice.

“Our goal at IAS was to find an investment partner that shared our vision and commitment to leveraging our expertise and data to provide valuable products and solutions that our customers depend on,” said IAS Executive Chairman Don Epperson. “With Vista’s support, we can continue to scale our business and build solutions that help our clients protect and grow their digital investments.”

This isn’t Vista’s first venture into ad and marketing tech companies. In 2016, it bought marketing tech firm Marketo for $1.8 billion. A year earlier, it acquired a majority stake in advertising software company Mediaocean in a deal that valued the company at about $720 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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The Vista IAS deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.