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Taboola takes investment from Baidu to expand to China

Taboola is one of the biggest content recommendation services, beating Facebook and Yahoo

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 18, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3dd5

Taboola is one of the biggest content recommendation services in the world. In April, it ranked third in the United States, behind only AddThis and Google, and beating out Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon, in giving people links to other articles around the Web. And now it is taking one giant leap to become an even larger presence.

The company revealed on Monday that is has taken an investment from Chinese language Internet search provider, Baidu. While the exact amount of funding was not disclosed, it was a "multi-million dollar" investment.

This new funding comes only a few months after Taboola raised a $117 million round in February. The company had, before this current round, raised $157 million from investors that included Fidelity Management and Research Company, Marker LLC­­­­, Steadfast Capital, Advance Publications, Comcast Ventures, Carlo De Benedetti, Groupe Arnault, Yahoo! JAPAN, and others.

The partnership between Taboola and Baidu will allow the company to tap into one of the largest technology markets. According to global traffic ranking firm Alexa,  Baidu ranks as the top website in China, and fourth most popular in the world, receiving tens of billions of search queries every day, about 75 percent of China’s combined PC and mobile search market share.

"We’re excited to embark on a new journey with Baidu of bringing discovery to China, where mobile is the number one way people access the Internet. As advertisers across the Asia-Pacific region continue to look for new, unique opportunities to reach consumers at scale on mobile, the synergy between Baidu and Taboola will become increasingly important," Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, wrote in a blog post

"Today’s announcement is another step towards helping people all across the globe find content they may like and never knew existed."

New York City-based Taboola provides a platform that publishers can use to recommend videos, articles and images to users on their sites.

The company uses its EngageRank technology to quantify how users interact with content in real-time, so that it can accurately predict, and recommend, content that it believes will be interesting to those users. Taboola uses multiple signals including contextual, behavioral, person and social, to find which videos to send to the right person at the right time. The recommended content can either be from the site the user is currently on, or from other sites from Taboola’s network of content.

One thing that is unclear is if, and how, Chinese censorship laws will affect Taboola's ability to serve people the most relevant content. 

China has had contentious relationships with many tech companies over this issue, particularly Google. It got so bad that Google has not even operated in the country since 2010, instead moving operations to Hong Kong.  Other sites and services that remain blocked include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Vimeo and Soundcloud.

Last year, the Chinese government implemented a ban on Web anonymity, specifically for YouTube-like online video sites. Obviously, once people can't hide behind avatars and usernames, they will be much less likely to say anything bad about the government.

VatorNews has reached out to Taboola for further comment on the funding, and its future in China, and we will update this story if we learn more

Publishers using Taboola include USA Today, NYTimes, TMZ, Politico.com, BusinessInsider, CafeMom, Billboard.com, Fox Television, Weather.com, Examiner, and many more. It sees 200 billion monthly recommendations, 550 millionm unique monthly visitors and over five million pieces of content in its marketplace. 

Headquartered in New York City, Taboola also has offices in Pasadena, London, Tel Aviv, New Delhi, and Bangkok.

(Image source: blog.taboola.com)


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