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January 25, 2015 / 5 Shevat, 5775
 
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With JP Morgan Purchase, Conduit Becomes Israel’s First Billion Dollar Internet Company

$1.4 billion Conduit founder and CEO Ronen Shilo.

$1.4 billion Conduit founder and CEO Ronen Shilo.
Photo Credit: Conduit

JP Morgan acquired a $100 million stake in Conduit from investor Yozma fund at a $1.4 billion valuation. Three weeks ago, Yozma fund sold more than 2% of its Conduit holdings to US fund W. Capital Partners. This after having initially invested $1.5 million in Conduit.

Yozma fund thus completed the sale of its stake in Conduit through two transactions. In contrast with an earlier transaction, in which company employees could also sell their shares, this time only Yozma find was selling its holdings.

According to the company’s press release, Conduit’s cash cow is its toolbar, which the company says has been used by more than 200,000 sites, including MLB.com and Miniclip, to reach 250 million users. When those users run a search via the publisher’s toolbar, Conduit receives a volume and ad performance payout from either Microsoft’s Bing (in the US) or Google (outside the US).

But the secret is not necessarily in creative navigation, despite a reported $200 million in profit last year from those fancy toolbars. Conduit CEO Ronen Shilo announced in a recent interview that “the future is not in toolbars, we are broader than that. We’re an engagement company. We aim to help publishers and online brands engage with their users on any platform.”

Shilo recently posted on his blog an entry titled “In Praise of Control,” reviewing Mark Zuckerberg’s handling of Facebook’s IPO:

“What interests me most is the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is about to be worth $28 billion – and still maintain operational control of the company… As someone who has been concerned about maintaining control of my company from the beginning, I completely understand and empathize with what Zuckerberg and his financial gurus have structured. My partners and I control over 50% of Conduit; I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I don’t think we could have achieved what we did otherwise.”

About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.


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