Unruly, one of the most successful startups to emerge from London's Silicon Roundabout, will operate as a separate unit in News Corp's business, under newly returned UK chief Rebekah Brooks.
“We have always been pioneers in our field, so combining the formidable reach and resonance of our titles with their cutting-edge technology and video expertise will help accelerate our growth in this digital age,” said Brooks.
Unruly's ad tech, which distributes, tracks and analyses the performance of social and viral videos, will be offered to agencies and ad partners of News Corp after the deal, which will "mean a significant increase in premium video and mobile inventory, a stronger content marketing offering and, ultimately, improved returns for News Corp’s advertisers".
“Unruly is a feisty and creative company with a start-up sensibility that fits perfectly with our own approach to developing businesses in the digital age," said News Corp chief executive Robert Thompson, adding that the acquisition will serve as a catalyst for its brands and help extend its expertise in mobile and digital video.
"Unruly complements our traditional editorial and commercial expertise with contemporary insight into how people read, watch, buy and sell in the digital era.” he said.
The deal is a £58m cash payment, subject to adjustments, and a further potential £56m based on performance and is expected to close by the end of the month.
The three Unruly founders Sarah Wood, Scott Button and Matt Cooke will remain at the company as co-chief executives and chief technology officer, respectively.
"We are incredibly grateful for the passion and dedication of the whole Unruly team that has today resulted in this phenomenal opportunity for the business,” said Wood.“Unruly’s enthusiasm for transforming video advertising and our agile development culture will continue to drive our innovative approach towards digital marketing as we help advertisers reconnect with consumers and future-proof their video strategy.”
Founded in 2006, Unruly notched up £27.7m revenue in 2014, up 23 per cent on the previous quarter and employs 200 people in 15 offices around the globe. It works with global advertisers such as Unilever, American Express and Diageo to predict whether videos will go viral online and offers video ad serving technology.
It's another step further into digital for News Corp, which bought Irish startup Storyful - a social news agency - in 2013 for £13m, which will create new advertising inventory across UK papers such as the Sun and the Times with Unruly.