Rubicon Reports Weak Q4, Barrett Replaces Addante As CEO

As it reported weak Q4 earnings and a 20% year-over-year drop in revenue, ad-tech firm Rubicon Project announced that Michael Barrett will become CEO, replacing Frank Addante, who will remain with the company as founder and chairman in an advisory role.

The change in leadership is the latest in a series of twists and turns as Rubicon has struggled over the last year—losing key executives and misreading the market’s interest in header bidding.

Barrett is a digital advertising and media industry vet. He was previously the CEO of Millennial Media, a mobile marketplace, which was acquired by AOL/Verizon. Prior to AOL/Verizon, he was chief revenue officer at Yahoo, CEO of AdMeld, a programmatic supply-side platform acquired by Google in 2011, and chief revenue officer at AOL.



Addante discussed the company’s restructuring and challenges in a recent conversation with Real-Time Daily.

Rubicon's revenue fell 23% in Q4 to $72.7 million; desktop and mobile Web revenues dipped due to the company's late entry to header bidding.

For Q4 2016, Rubicon's non-GAAP net revenue was $66.9 million, compared to $83.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2015. The company reported a net loss of $21.2 million, or diluted loss per shareof $0.44, compared to net income of $20.4 million, or diluted income per share of $0.43 for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Included in the net loss for Q4 2016 were impairment of intangible assets expenses of $23.5 million and restructuring and other exit costs of $3.3 million. The company’s adjusted EBITDA was $21.7 million, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $36.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Non-GAAP earnings per share were $0.37 for the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $0.74 for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Rubicon’s picture for the entire year was stronger than for Q4. The company reported revenue of $278.2 million compared to $248.5 million in 2015; non-GAAP net revenue was $256.1 million compared to $227.3 million for 2015.

However, its net loss was $18.1 million, or diluted loss per share of $0.39, compared to net income of $0.4 million, or diluted income per share of $0.01 for 2015. Included in GAAP net income for 2016 were impairment of intangible assets expense of $23.5 million and restructuring and other exits costs of $3.3 million.

Adjusted EBITDA for 2016 was $70.9 million, which compares to $59.5 million for 2015.  The company ended 2016 with $190.0 million in cash and marketable securities.

In an interview, Addante focused on positives, noting 400 new customer deals in 2016 and 300 new clients now using Rubicon's header bidding product. "We reported that Q4 earnings came within the guidance that we gave to the Street, " he said. "We've focused on growing our market share. We were profitable in 2016 and made significant investments in mobile, video, header bidding, growing our global and orders business."

Addante also flagged $200 million on the company's balance sheet -- which "puts us in a good position," he said. Regarding the industry's shift to server-to-server side header bidding, Addante noted challenges. Among them: it's more difficult to do cookie matching to retarget consumers.

Regarding the lowlights, Addante said the company's late entry into header bidding caused it "to lose access to some of the supply as we restructured the business, but we didn’t lose customers."

For his part, Barrett said he doesn't anticipate making a lot of new hires to the team and declined to hint at what he's planning. "I’ve known Frank and the team for years as a competitor and a client. I know that this industry is dynamic and that can lead to disruption," Barrett said. "Rubicon is perfectly poised to catch up on header bidding, we're well on our way. There are a lot of interesting things we can do."

Shares of Rubicon tumbled 23.72% in after hours trading Tuesday after the company reported Q4 earnings.

Next story loading loading..