S4 In Talks To Buy MightyHive; IAC’s Dotdash Impresses

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Sir Martin Calling

Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital is in advanced talks to acquire programmatic agency and advisory firm MightyHive, the Financial Times reports. FT sources put MightyHive’s value at $140 to $200 million, with annual revenues of $25 million. Run by former Googler Peter Kim, MightyHive has carved out a niche helping brands such as Sprint and Bayer bring media buying activities in-house. More (subscription required). MightyHive ranked no. 7 on AdExchanger’s Top 10 Agencies list for 2018. Read that. At PROGRAMMATIC I/O New York last month, Sorrell said he’d like to do two more deals “fairly quickly,” before adding, “Then I think I’d probably like to rest.” Video.

About Dotdash

IAC sent a letter to shareholders this week announcing it would break out Dotdash, the revamped About.com, into its own category going forward. Dotdash was previously bucketed under IAC’s Publishing business, but after growing 35% in Q3 to $30 million in revenue, it showed “performance of a business more than worthy of its own segment,” wrote IAC CEO Joey Levin in the letter. Read it. On IAC’s earnings call Thursday, Levin talked about further acquisitions at Dotdash, which rebranded and reorganized as a vertical publisher in 2017. Levin also sees opportunities for affiliate revenue on Dotdash’s vertical-specific sites. “There’s still some optimism in the publishing market that will wash itself out and bring us more opportunities,” he said. “We are, for the first time in a long time, on our toes in that area vs. on our heels.” Read the earnings release.

Prone To Vices

In less rosy digital media news, Vice is shrinking its workforce by up to 15% and shutting down numerous websites as growth stagnates. The former darling of digital media is projecting flat revenue this year, coming in an expected $100 million short of investor projections, The Wall Street Journal reports. CEO Nancy Dubuc wants to refocus efforts on growing areas like the company’s in-house agency, Virtue, and distributing shows for third parties. Meanwhile, Dubuc will consolidate Vice’s more than a dozen verticals across food, music and lifestyle into three to five sections as it slims the workforce through attrition and a hiring freeze implemented six weeks ago. More.

A Watched Pot

Facebook is trying (and struggling) to find a reason for broadcasters and creators to produce content for Facebook Watch. The social platform initially paid broadcasters to pilot shows on Watch, but will subsidize less content moving forward. Some Watch programs have gained traction, but Facebook earns less on these, since broadcasters take what works and broadcast it elsewhere after Facebook’s exclusivity window closes. “From a financial perspective, it’s a really interesting model,” Anna Robertson, VP of growth and partnerships at ABC, told Ad Age. “It’s a show funded by Facebook, and now it gets a second wind that we can now sell to advertisers.” More.

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