Infillion is confirmed as MediaMath’s new owner as a familiar face slides back into view

Infillion is confirmed as MediaMath’s new owner as a familiar face slides back into view

August 23, 2023  •  4 min read  •  By Ronan Shields and Seb Joseph

Ivy Liu

Ad tech firm Infillion will take possession of MediaMath, confirmed the filings of an August 23 bankruptcy hearing, bookending one of the ad tech stories of the year, so far.

Digiday has learned that AperiamVentures, the investment fund led by former MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki, advised on the winning $22 million cash bid for the company, a development that could rekindle the relationship between the ad tech veteran and the company he founded in 2007.

All of this arises from the Chapter 11 proceedings from one of ad tech’s most recognizable names, a development that left dozens of companies out of pocket, and some wondering what it augurs for the future of digital media’s most dynamic sector.

Sources have hinted that AperiamVenture’s input to Infillion’s purchase could open the door for future collaborations between the investment fund’s portfolio of 15 ad tech start-ups and MediaMath, as it embarks on its rebuild process.

Return of the OGs?

Earlier this month, Insider reported Zawadzki had assembled a consortium of ad tech investors under the banner of “Project Phoenix” to retake charge of the demand-side platform with input from figures within AperiamVentures.

Project Phoenix, registered as “Phoenix Project Acquisition Inc.” according to Insider’s August 8 article, sought to raise $10 million, should the consortium of long-standing ad tech execs be successful in their bid.

However, the eventual dollar amount required to become a qualified bidder for MediaMath exceeded the $10 million mark with Phoenix Project not named in official court papers and Infillion emerging as one of the final participants in the eventual auction process, along with Genius Sports Media.

Separate sources — all of whom declined to be named due to the close proximity of their relationships to the primary actors involved — told Digiday that representatives of AperiamVentures had emerged as a partner to Infillion’s MediaMath takeover.

Digiday understands the fund’s input in the run-up to Infillion’s bid for MediaMath included advice on areas of focus during the rebuild process. For example, which relationships should it repair first given the multiple industry stakeholders, such as former staffers or supply-side players, left out of pocket following the June 30 bankruptcy?

As one source described it, “Joe and his consortium can help put the plan in motion, and Infillion can put the money behind it.”

Representatives of both AperiamVentures and Infillion did not respond to respective requests for comment by press time, albeit Digiday understands the fund holds no financial stake in MediaMath following the takeover and that any ongoing relationship between the pair has yet to be formalized.

Infillion reveals its intentions

MediaMath is regarded as one of ad tech’s early trailblazers and widely considered the industry’s first DSP, with filings from this week’s court proceedings hinting at Infillion’s vision for MediaMath’s future.

We believe MediaMath will end up remitting over a billion dollars over the next five years

Rob Emrich, Infillion

“Our current financial model calls for another 30 million dollars [sic] in operating losses over the next three years, as we bring this business back. Plus, an additional 40 million dollars [sic] in working capital,” reads a statement attributed to Rob Emrich, Infillion’s chairman and executive chairman according to an official transcript.

Emrich’s remarks detail how Infillion seeks to restore the DSP platform to “its former state”, hiring 155 staff by the close of its third year of operations and note how it intended to help fill the coffers of its supply chain partners.

“Over the first three years, we expect to spend around 445 million dollars [sic] on traffic acquisition costs and another 102 million in other operating expenses,” reads the filing, “we believe that MediaMath will end up remitting over a billion dollars in inventory traffic, data fees, and hosting contracts over the next five years.”

Sources consulted by Digiday were generally positive as to the prospect of a “MediaMath 2.0” but several raised how winning back the trust of former clients and partners, such as the top 30 creditors it owed a collective $75 million to at the time of its bankruptcy filing, will be crucial to any rebuild. Albeit, it is with this concern that AperiamVentures could appear to pose a solution in the guise of FxM, a media factoring firm that lists Zawadzki as chairman.

“It could be great, but also could be another whopping fail if they can’t earn the trust of their clients back,” noted one source.

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