Update: AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher confirms that Apple will pay $275 million for Quattro.
Earlier: Mobile ad network Quattro Wireless is in the process of being acquired, according to sources in the mobile industry.
Apple is the potential buyer mentioned by the most sources, though to us it makes equal sense for Microsoft, an agency conglomerate, or a large publisher to buy the company.
One source says, “The word I’m getting is Apple, the iSlate [tablet] team… They are the most likely fit. I’m fairly sure [Quattro was] the second largest iPhone app [ad] SDK distributed in the market next to AdMob.”
But basically: Apple would buy an ad company to make the best-possible mobile ad platform for its gadgets, and to get a cut of mobile ad revenue, which is going to be a growing market on the iPhone and Apple tablet.
“Apple’s talking to everyone” in mobile advertising about potential deals, we keep hearing. And Apple probably doesn’t want to blindly cede this market to Google.
One source we spoke with doesn’t know how much the deal would go for, but says he’d be “shocked” if Quattro sells for more than $200 million. This also fits the bill for Apple, which would want to buy anything on the cheap. (It certainly wasn’t about to put up $750 million like Google did for AdMob.)
The fact that Quattro was being acquired was first reported by Mobile Marketer on Dec. 31, so it’s kind of an open secret at this point. According to Mobile Marketer’s Dan Butcher, the deal could be announced at Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this week.
“They’ve made no effort to hide their ‘we’re for sale’ for the past few months,” says one industry source. “rumour has it they were out trying to raise money for the past few months.”
But who’s buying Quattro? That’s something neither Butcher — nor our sources — have been able to pinpoint.
According to industry scuttlebutt, the buyer could be:
- Apple (Which was in the running for AdMob before Google bought it.)
- An agency holding company like Interpublic
- A big publisher like CBS (Quattro is focused on the publisher side)
- “Ain’t Yahoo”
- A big carrier like AT&T
Research firm IDC estimated Quattro Wireless at roughly $20 million in sales last year, below leaders like Millennial ($35 million) and AdMob ($31 million).
Quattro has raised $28.3 million in financing so far, according to CrunchBase.
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