Billion-dollar unicorn Taboola has just raised more millions in funding, and now it plans to conquer China

Lara O'Reilly

Taboola, the content recommendation platform valued at more than $1 billion, has just raised a multi-million dollar funding round from China's largest search engine Baidu — which is also the fifth most-popular site in the world, according to Alexa.

Even if you don't know Taboola as a company,  you've most likely encountered it several times online. Its content recommendations — paid-for by brands and publishers — appear on sites including The Weather Channel, The Atlantic, MailOnline and Business Insider. It is the third biggest syndicated advertising platform, behind only Google and AddThis, according to comScore's US rankings for April. And Taboola claims the average online American sees Taboola's content recommendations 60 times a month.

Speaking to Business Insider, Taboola CEO and founder Adam Singolda would not confirm the exact amount Baidu has invested in his company. Prior to Baidu's investment announced on Monday, the company had raised $157 million in funding.

At the heart of this round is also a partnership that will help Taboola expand into China, in a similar way the $117 million in Series E funding the company raised in February, which included Yahoo Japan among the investors, has helped it expand into Japan.

"We are going to spend the next few months looking at how the partnership will work. It is in very early stages but we are excited to partner ... we are going to learn together with them ... every local market has its own ingredients — even the UK," Singolda told us.

This funding round marks the fourth investment Baidu has made in US-based companies, with other investments including Uber and geo-location technology company IndoorAtlas.

Baidu already has its own content arm, but Taboola will now work with the company to install the technology to help monetize it further and bring publishers and advertisers on board, Singolda said. The idea is to help Baidu users discover content that they may never have known existed, based on their Taboola's predictive targeting technology.

Taboola currently has 270 employees worldwide and an annual revenue run-rate of more than $300 million. Singolda said the company has generated positive EBITDA for the past seven consecutive quarters, adding "in that respect, we don't have to go public." 

Outside of its expansion into China, Taboola also plans to use its latest investment round not just to enter the Chinese market for the first time, but to help build out what Singolda describes as "the next generation of personalization," which will see entire content sites personalized depending on your reading habits and other data collected about you — not just recommendations at the bottom of each page.

Taboola is also building out a newsroom product for homepage editors, to help them test different homepages to see which ones deliver the highest click-through rates, depending on different types of content and where articles are positioned.

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