Sovrn acquires VigLink to expand its publisher monetization platform

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Sovrn recently raised a $25 million in new funding with the goal of expanding beyond the adtech business through acquisitions. Now it’s announcing the first of those deals: It’s acquiring affiliate marketing company VigLink.

Sovrn first launched in 2014 — made up, as CEO Walter Knapp put it, from “bits and pieces of different companies.” (It emerged from Federated Media and its roots go back to Lijit, which FM acquired in 2011.) Knapp said the company’s vision is to “enable a professional class of storytellers to do more of what they want to do” by providing tools around content creation, distribution, monetization, operations and capital.

As for VigLink, it was founded in 2009 to help publishers monetize by automatically inserting affiliate links (where merchants share revenue with publishers when those publishers drive sales). Knapp said he’s been interested in the intersection of publishing and commerce because publishers are often the ones influencing consumer purchase decisions, but “they don’t really capture the commerce value of what they’ve created.”

VigLink already plays a big role in that process — Knapp said its links are driving nearly $1 billion in annual sales. But he also noted that there’s less than 10 percent overlap between the domains working with Sovrn and VigLink, so he sees plenty of opportunity to grow.

“We can take what is a really interesting product that has appealed more to high volume publishers and take it into content publishers,” Knapp said. “Now what’s required there is a pretty deep understanding of the editorial process.”

Knapp intends to bring entire 35-person VigLink team over to Sovrn, bringing the company’s headcount to 220. He also said that with the addition of VigLink to Sovrn’s business, “transactional adtech” will make up less than half of the company’s total revenue.

And he promised that the VigLink product will continue to evolve, for example by giving publishers more data about the entire customer journey.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to Crunchbase, VigLink raised more than $27 million from investors including GV, Emergence Capital, First Round Capital, RRE Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Foundry Group, Costanoa Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.

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