A reliable source indicates that News Corp's Fox Audience Network (FAN) and Rubicon Project are in the final stages of putting together a deal to be announced in the next 24-48 hours. The specifics aren't clear yet, but a News Corp acquisition of Rubicon Project would put Rubicon under the MySpace umbrella - not sure that would make sense, though. In late August, News Corp announced that FAN would be consolidated into MySpace. Just before the announcement, FAN CEO Adam Bain left to drive the revenue interests of Twitter. From these recent events, it would appear that FAN is being wound down rather than built up.
The more likely scenario for the deal is Rubicon Project acquiring FAN assets - which include real-time bidding-enabled technology, the engineers at FAN (experienced display ad tech people are hard to find), and the original Strategic Data Corp assets acquired in 2007 by News Corp - as Rubicon prepares to drive deeper into the fast-moving and innovating world of ad technology while positioning itself as a publisher-side platform. A strategic relationship with media behemoth News Corp would be a compelling, added benefit if it can be pulled off and it would echo Time Warner Investments participation in recent funding of Rubicon competitor, AdMeld.
But, there may be other scenarios. We'll see.
Rubicon Project was late to the game in terms of offering display ad media buyers and sellers real-time bidding functionality for its publisher-side yield optimization platform as its competitors AdMeld and PubMatic moved quickly with the feature in 2009.
In February, Allen & Company was contracted by Rubicon Project to find potential strategic partners or acquisitions. It would seem FAN could be the result.
By John Ebbert
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