July, 2021

DIGIDAY features Ciesco CEO, Chris Sahota

The parallels are hard to ignore: historic valuations, bidding wars, the dreary-eyed CEO chasing one last chance to flip their business before all the easy money dries up. Today’s ad tech market feels a lot like the bubble of 2013. Back then, the companies were mostly ad networks claiming they were software companies.

Rocket Fuel was the poster child of this group. It was managed service-based, reported revenues as gross, and raked in tons of margin as a result. It was a human wizard behind a veil of tech. It also pooled marketers’ data (a topic for another day, but it definitely counted against the ad tech firm’s business model). As a result, the sector was put in a penalty box.

Eight years later and all seems forgiven. Not only are ad tech vendors the businesses du jour among many investors, but they’re also the flavor of the month amongst each other. Deals are being cut at a relentless pace.

“Deal volume is being driven by the private markets and those investors are seasoned who have a laser-sharp focus on where in the market they can get returns,” said Chris Sahota, CEO of M&A advisory Ciesco. “Despite the valuations in the market, these investors try not to overpay otherwise they’d rather not do the deal. As long as there are great target companies and there’s capital to invest in them then this wave will continue in the private markets.”