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Zefr Sells Its Copyright-Flagging and YouTube Channel-Management Businesses to Vobile for $90 Million

Vobile Group, a video protection and measurement company, announced a deal to acquire Zefr’s RightsID copyright-management and ChannelID YouTube channel-management businesses for about $90 million.

According to the companies, Zefr’s RightsID and ChannelID together generated over $40 million in revenue in 2018 and were profitable. The deal stands to more than triple the revenue for Vobile, which reported sales of $15.2 million and a net loss of $2.5 million for the full year 2018.

With the pact, about 100 of Zefr’s employees will join Vobile, which said it is opening a new office in L.A. to house the RightsID and ChannelID operations and serve entertainment-industry customers. Following the sale, Zefr will have a headcount of around 150.

Zefr made the sale in order to focus entirely on its core contextual-advertising platform, formerly called BrandID. That analyzes millions of YouTube videos to determine the nature of the content — and reviews them to ensure they’re “brand safe” — to let advertisers buy targeted spots on the platform.

“As we focus on capitalizing on the potential of our contextual-targeting platform, we believe we’ve found the perfect home for RightsID and ChannelID,” Zach James, Zefr’s co-founder and co-CEO, said in a statement. He added that Vobile’s acquisition “creates an unmatched content protection and measurement company for the modern digital-media market.”

Founded in 2005, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vobile provides a software-as-a-service platform for protecting, measuring and monetizing online video content. Customers include Hollywood film studios, TV networks and other content owners. The company’s shares are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Vobile said the deal to will let it combine existing business offerings for reducing revenue loss from copyright infringement with the Zefr platforms’ ability to measure and monetize video at a high scale. Zefr’s businesses also will give it deeper relationships with platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Vobile said.

“The new Vobile will empower content providers to protect and maximize the value of their assets, draw upon new distribution channels and analytically assess their efforts within the marketing funnel,” Vobile CEO Yangbin Wang (pictured above) said in a statement

Vobile was advised in the transaction by LionTree; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; and Freshfields Bruckhaus Denger. For Zefr, Nfluence Partners acted as financial adviser and King & Spalding was legal counsel.

Investors in privately held Zefr include IVP, U.S. Venture Partners, MK Capital, Shasta Ventures, First Round Capital and Richmond Park Partners. In 2014, Zefr sold its Movieclips.com business to NBCUniversal’s Fandango.

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