AT&T agreed to acquire AppNexus, a New York City-based tech firm specializing in delivering and optimizing online advertising, the telecom giant said Monday. No financial details of the transaction have been provided by the second-largest mobile service provider in the country, with the company only saying it's expecting to complete the purchase in the third quarter of the year. The duo won't start combining their operations on any front until the deal is officially concluded. AppNexus will be integrated into AT&T's advertising and analytics division which is currently helmed by Chief Executive Officer Brian Lesser.
The Dallas, Texas-based wireless carrier described the newly announced move as the latest step in its efforts to grow its marketing business, signaling it's preparing to make a more concentrated push toward competing with Google and Facebook, by far the most dominant digital advertising companies on the planet. From that perspective, the AppNexus purchase is somewhat similar to AT&T's $85.6 billion acquisition of Time Warner which the firm said will help it take on another online giant – Netflix. The network operator is now hoping to integrate AppNexus into its existing operations so as to bolster its advertising unit with additional machine learning expertise, cutting-edge content delivery solutions, and other technologies the firm has been pursuing so far.
Established in 2007, AppNexus made four acquisitions of its own and raised over $320 million over the course of the last decade, according to Crunchbase. The company was said to have filed for an IPO in late 2016, targeting a $2 billion valuation, but reportedly ended up dropping that idea last year for unknown reasons. Investors who previously backed the firm include T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom and Yahoo! Japan, one of the few remnants of the fallen Sunnyvale-based tech giant that wasn't sold off to Verizon last year. AppNexus is also present in Europe, Australia, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region, providing AT&T with a significant entry point into a number of new digital advertising markets across the globe. Its ad delivery and optimization solutions will be integrated into both AT&T's wireless offerings and assets from Time Warner, recently rebranded into WarnerMedia.