US Outbrain acquires Slovenian Zemanta

At their 10th anniversary, the Slovenian high-tech company Zemanta d.o.o. announced that it was entirely acquired by Outbrain from the US, the world’s largest premium content discovery platform. The sum that Outbrain paid for Zemanta’s technology, products and team remains a business secret, and Zemanta’s co-founders Andraž Tori and Boštjan Špetič will join Outbrain. After becoming part of Outbrain Zemanta’s platform will continue to operate as a standalone product.

Zemanta
Co-founders of Zemanta, Andraž Tori and Boštjan Špetič, with Outbrain’s co-founder, Ori Lahav.

It has been ten years since computer programmer and journalist Andraž Tori and sociologist and hacktivist Boštjan Špetič came up with the idea of a smart personal assistant for online writing. They founded Zemanta that convinced the Seedcamp jury and became the first Slovenian start-up that received investment from the then very prestigious British accelerator. The eyes of the entire regional start-up scene, at that time just beginning to exist, were on the bold Slovenians who proved that even in the “small” Slovenia it is possible to create a service that can change the world’s advertising landscape, acquire venture capital from the US, move its headquarters to New York and develop to such an extent that it becomes interesting for a giant as Outbrain.

Following 10 years of interesting events, some investment rounds (according to Crunchbase, Zemanta received almost 9 million dollars of investments; among the most well-known investors are venture capital funds Union Square Ventures, Eden Ventures and T.A.G. The Accelerator Group), a major pivot and a leadership change, last September the team announced that they sold blogging tools and the network to the US company Sovrn to focus on the content promotion and native advertising platform that became Zemanta’s primary product three years ago.

Strong platform for automated buying of native advertising

Zemanta’s DSP (Demand Side Platform) is today used by dozens of globally renowned advertising agencies as their chosen platform for automated buying of native advertising. By the help of Zemanta’s platform, marketers and agencies buy advertising space in the largest collection of native advertising opportunities in the world that includes more than fifty programmatic native advertising networks, including Yahoo, Facebook and Outbrain. And precisely this platform convinced Outbrain, the largest premium content discovery platform in the world.

With a user-friendly interface and robust APIs, Zemanta enables an unparalleled advertising reach and automated achieving of business goals, making it a natural fit with Outbrain’s offer. The acquisition will allow Zemanta to grow its business with existing customers – brands, agencies and publishers – and accelerated global expansion.

Zemanta’s co-founders at the beginning of their business path

The only Slovenian company that processes hundred thousand transactions per second

Upon acquisition Yaron Galai, Outbrain CEO, said:

Digital marketing has grown on the strength of two important trends – efficiency gains from programmatic buying, and the effectiveness that comes with native advertising. Marketers no longer have to sacrifice one in favour of the other. By pairing Outbrain’s global network with Zemanta’s platform, marketers will be able to deliver scale, brand safety, and user engagement in one offering.

Zemanta’s co-founder and product director Boštjan Špetič is proud that such product was created precisely in Ljubljana:

We are proud to have built a product and technology in Ljubljana that will now be used globally and will change the online landscape for better. We were global pioneers with the first product already, smart blogger assistant, which we successfully sold in the US last year. I believe that this acquisition is great news for the whole Slovenian start-up ecosystem since we have for the first time experienced the whole life-cycle of a modern global start-up with a successful conclusion.

Co-founder Andraž Tori that will add the role of CEO of Ljubljana branch to his existing position of a technical director promises that Zemanta will play an even more important role in Slovenian start-up ecosystem from which it grew, and encourages potential future employees:

Zemanta was not a pioneer only in business terms, but also in the fact that we have always considered Slovenian engineer and start-up community as a key factor of our success. That is why we constantly strive to give something back to this community by sharing the knowledge and organising professional meetings as well as by personally assisting in individual projects. We hope that there will be even more of it now, in the framework of Outbrain, as we have very similar values.

We will continue to employ extraordinary people and start daring projects. We are probably the only Slovenian company that processes hundred thousand transactions per second, and this is just the beginning. We are looking for people with potential that we can entrust with projects they are barely able to handle. That is how we all develop.

CNN, ESPN, Le Monde, Fox News, The Guardian among partners

Outbrain is world’s leading premium discovery platform, bringing personalized, relevant online, mobile and video content to audiences while helping publishers understand their audiences through data analysis. Outbrain serves more than 250 billion personalized content recommendations, reaching in the region of a billion users every month across the globe.

Outbrain’s expansion to some of the web’s largest global properties reflects its rapid growth and its successful innovations in supporting a new era of digital advertising. The publishers that currently use the Outbrain platform include: CNN, ESPN, Time Inc., Le Monde, Fox News, The Guardian, SPH, The Telegraph, New York Post, Sky News, TF1, Condé Nast, Bild, Orange and L’Equipe.

The Outbrain company was founded in 2006, with the headquarters in New York and its offices across the globe, including several offices in the US, UK, Israel, Singapore, Japan and Australia.

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