Vice Abandons SPAC Plans; Databricks Valued At $38 Billion In Latest Round

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SPAC’s All Folks

Vice Media officially nixed plans to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), at least for now, The Information reports. However, Vice did raise an additional $85 million from existing investors. A portion of those funds are earmarked for costs associated with the company’s 2016 acquisition of UK-based studio Pulse, since it must continue investing to retain a majority share of the company. Vice co-founder Shane Smith will no longer control a voting majority of Vice, though he’ll remain as board chairman. The digital media company was $20 million in the red last year, down from a $100 million loss in 2018. So investors hope the new round will be a bridge to sustainable profitability. 

Building Bricks

Speaking of new investments … the open-source analytics and machine learning company Databricks announced a $1.6 billion round at a $38 billion valuation. Databricks’ annual recurring revenue grew 75% to $600 million, compared to $450 million at the end of 2020. The company describes itself as a “data lakehouse,” a combination data lake and warehouse. “[Data lakehouses are] a new category, and we think there’s going to be lots of vendors in this data category. So it’s a land grab. We want to quickly race to build it and complete the picture,” co-founder and CEO Ali Ghodsi told TechCrunch. Want any proof? Databricks raised $1 billion only seven months ago and was valued at $28 billion. It has raised a total of $3.5 billion. But Databricks needs a heavy outlay to compete in cloud data and analytics. There’s Google, Microsoft and Amazon (perhaps you’ve heard of them), and even a $90 billion monster like Snowflake is a distant challenger. “It’s not like we’re up against some tiny startups that are getting seed funding to build this,” Ghodsi said. 

Three-Letter Acronyms Forever

Can NFTs be the cool new thing online, if the brands are onboard already? Within five years, nearly every company, including B2B companies, will become web3 companies – meaning they will run on decentralized or blockchain-based networks. That’s according to the Not Boring newsletter. Disney’s Marvel Universe made tens of millions of dollars in August selling NFTs of characters and old comic books. NFTs have proven a neat way to gain PR and experiment with new payment systems … while sometimes earning a profit under marketing. Nine days ago, Visa purchased a CryptoPunks NFT for $150,000 to prove its crypto bona fides. And the value of that NFT has tripled. The AriZona Iced Tea brand purchased a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT recently as well, and as part of its membership status, so to speak, it got a native content shout in the first Bored Ape comic line. There are more examples, and seemingly new ones every day. 

But Wait, There’s More!  

A who’s who of streaming video and subscription marketers. [Business Insider]

Publicis Sapient and Epsilon Extend CORE ID product to Salesforce CDP. [release]

Instagram users will have to enter their birthday to use the platform. [TechCrunch]

LG Ads teams with Foxtel Media for smart TV data in Australia. [release]

Progressives are leaning on FTC Chair Lina Khan to block Amazon’s planned acquisition of MGM. [The Information

TikTok is deepening its ties with influencer marketing agencies with its Creator Marketplace API. [Adweek]

Facebook is reducing political content in its News Feed. [Axios]

You’re Hired

NextPlay Technologies hires Andrew Greaves as CTO and Tim Sikora as CIO. [release]

Carolyn Keegan joins Havas Media as ad operations director. [AdNews]

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