It’s mobile mania.
There were three big pieces of mobile news before lunch on Monday – evidence that the mobile app market is white hot and only getting hotter.
Content discovery provider Digital Turbine is acquiring app monetization company Fyber for $600 million in cash and stock – less than a month after spending $400 million to buy AdColony and just two months after acquiring mobile DSP Appreciate.
App ad platform ironSource is set to go public at a valuation of $11.1 billion via SPAC by combining with Thoma Bravo Advantage, a publicly traded private equity firm.
And TikTok parent company ByteDance is acquiring Shanghai-based game publisher Moonton Technology in a deal reportedly valued at around $4 billion.
Although the three stories are not clearly related on the surface, there’s a direct connection between them: uncertainty breeds consolidation.
Digital Turbine on a tear
The rationale behind Digital Turbine’s mobile ad tech buying spree is to develop a competitive, full-stack ad monetization platform.
Digital Turbine’s core technology helps boost native app and content discovery on mobile devices and smart TVs through relationships with mobile carriers and manufacturers.
Combined with Digital Turbine’s recent acquisitions of AdColony and Appreciate, Fyber “represents an extremely valuable puzzle piece,” said Digital Turbine CEO Bill Stone in a statement.
Once integrated, this mobile kit-and-kaboodle will help Digital Turbine play “a far more prominent and profitable role” in the more than $200 billion mobile advertising and connected TV marketplace, Stone said.
It’s been a long journey for Fyber, whose sale to Digital Turbine is like a rollup inside of a rollup.
In 2014, Fyber, which houses a mobile SSP and in-app exchange, was acquired for $190 million by RNTS Media, a German media company that’s publicly traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Over the next two years, Fyber acquired SSP and programmatic ad serving tech from Falk Realtime for $11 million, mobile ad network Heyzap for $45 million and mobile ad exchange Inneractive for $86 million.
Fyber’s sale to Digital Turbine is set to close in Q2. Fyber has around 250 employees, 100 of whom are located in Israel.
Moving over to SPAC Land, ironSource, one of Fyber’s competitors, is going a different route with the announcement over the weekend of its first step toward an IPO.
Specifically, ironSource, which had 2020 revenue of $332 million – an 83% year-over-year increase – is combining with PE firm Thomas Bravo Advantage to create a public company at a valuation of $11 billion.
The transaction is expected to generate up to $2.3 billion in cash, some of which will be used to buy out ironSource existing equity holders.
IronSource has two different solutions, one called Sonic that helps developers launch, monetize and scale their apps and games, and a second called Aura that helps telcos and phone manufacturers make on-device app, game and content recommendations – which is also Digital Turbine’s main business.
With discovery in the App Store set for disruption on iOS 14, it looks like some are betting on OEMs as the next frontier for user acquisition.
Taking a byte
Speaking of big bets on mobile gaming, news broke Monday that ByteDance’s video games unit, Nuverse, will acquire Moonton Technology, the gaming studio behind the hugley popular multiplayer online battle game “Mobile Legends.”
Sources told Reuters that Tencent made a bid for Moonton, but Bytedance matched the offer last week.
The deal is reportedly worth $4 billion.
In a statement, Bytedance said that Moonton will provide “the strategic support needed to accelerate Nuverse’s global gaming offerings.”
Wonder if “Mobile Legends” plans to ask users for tracking permission on iOS 14 devices? Last week, news broke that ByteDance and other large Chinese companies have been working on a fingerprinting-like solution called CAID that could be used to bypass Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework.