New York is still abuzz that an ad tech company called Moat sold itself to Oracle. Terms of the deal were undisclosed but an unnamed source told Recode’s Peter Kafka that Oracle will pay upwards of $850 million for Moat.
Moat is widely considered one of the hottest ad-tech startups and, based on the reported $850 million price tag, Oracle is paying handsomely. The company raised a total of $68 million since it was founded in 2010 and was valued at $434 million, according to Pitchbook, a database that tracks such things.
Oracle clearly wants the technology Moat’s founders built. But it also nabs, at least for a while, three people with a spiderweb across the whole ad-tech startup world.
Moat’s tech helps verify that ads appear against the content that the advertiser requested be targeted. This is an increasingly important role in the brave new world of programmable advertising, where ads are automatically placed on all sorts of websites via computerized ad networks.
Moat also provides other forms of content analytics and has a close partnership with TV and online video ratings company Nielsen.
Moat may be best known for its partnership agreements with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And it created a lot of buzz when it landed a partnership deal with Snap, a company that had been much criticized for its lack of third-party verifications.
When that uproar occurred last month over offensive content in YouTube star PewDiePie’s videos, advertisers wanted to make sure their ads were not sponsoring objectionable content. Google had an answer: its partnership with companies like Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify.
But Moat is only one part of the influence its trio of founders have built over a decade.
Two of the founders are brothers, CEO Jonah Goodhart and Noah Goodhart. The third is their long-time business partner Michael Walrath.
The story of the Goodhart brothers goes something like this: While students at Cornell University, they created an early advertising website called Colonize.com, which became hugely popular, led to consulting work and generally, reportedly, generated millions for them.
They began investing in other internet startups and backed Right Media, an early programmatic company founded by Walrath, who worked at DoubleClick and later, Yahoo. Right Media sold to Yahoo in 2007 for $680 million (after Google bought competitor DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.)
The three of them then launched an official investment fund, WGI Group, and a few years later, launched Moat together, too.
WGI Group is still going strong today and has made investments in a couple of dozen up-and-coming companies like Cheddar, The Muse, Confide, Yext, Fuzz Media.
Oracle says that Moat it is absorbing the entire Moat team including CEO Jonah Goodhart, and that it will operate as an independent company under the Oracle Data Cloud umbrella.
It’s unclear what roles Noah and Walrath will have at Oracle.
And we’ll also see how long they stay after their lockup expires. Oracle is famous for acquiring a company, absorbing its technology and its engineers and spitting out its founders as soon as they are legally able to cash out their shares. Even BlueKai co-founder and CEO Omar Tawakol left Oracle late last year, after 2.5 years. He had spearheaded the formation of running Data Cloud, and was running it, the part of the company that Moat will join.
But while they are working for Oracle, it may have an inside track on many other other internet companies.