Teads: Patrick Drahi’s Magical Unicorn

February 2, 2022, Patrick Drahi responds to a Senate Committee of Inquiry into Media Concentration. He is not shaken by the parliamentarians and takes the opportunity to introduce his group:

“I now own the most successful unicorn on the French market called Teads (…) and which is number one in online advertising video worldwide. 🇧🇷

In the fabulous world of start-ups, the term unicorn refers to a company valued at over a billion dollars. But, every child knows, unicorns are imaginary animals. The same applies to the valuation of startups which is calculated, in particular, according to the potential capital gain an investor expects. Everything can come crashing down overnight. That’s exactly what happened to Patrick Drahi when he bought Teads, even if he hides it from the senators. Immersed in this acquisition of an imaginary animal where money is not lost on everyone…

On March 21, 2017, Altice announced the acquisition of Teads, a start-up specializing in online video advertising. The French company was founded in Montpellier in 2005 by Pierre Chappaz, a French Internet veteran. The latter had, for example, co-founded Kelkoo, a price comparator, Wikio – initially an information search engine in the media and blogs –, or even Netvibes, which allowed you to create your own news aggregator in the form of a website page. . Teads, on the other hand, inserts advertising videos into prestigious newspaper articles such as Le Monde, Der Spiegel or Washington Post and measures whether they have been seen, which allows advertising customers to be billed.

Internet audience measurement: the great nonsense

Teads makes it possible, on paper, to charge for videos actually viewed by visitors, who have voluntarily triggered them. In fact, advertising on the Internet pays little. You have to be a juggernaut like Google or Facebook to make big profits. Furthermore, compensation is based on more than questionable audience measurements🇧🇷 According to numerous studies, around 50% of visits to the Internet are the result of computer programs (“bots”) that imitate – better and better – human behavior. This is not a recent discovery: Bloomberg reported in September 2009 the disappointment of the Heineken brand. “Only 20% of the campaign’s ‘ad impressions’ – ads that appear on a computer or smartphone screen – were seen by real people. … was disbelief and indignation. “It was as if we had thrown our money into the underworld” (…). “As an advertiser, we pay for human eyes and we think we are buying views. But in the digital world, you are just paying for the ad to appear and there is no guarantee that anyone will see it, or even a human being will see it.” And as all this becomes more and more popular, online ad sellers like Teads no longer inspire confidence.

the failed sale

Problem, Patrick Drahi and his group spent 285 million to pay for this “nugget”. The operation seems to have been decided by Drahi himself., without even having been validated by the board of directors of Altice Int, as attested by the astonishment of one of its employees. A little light. But if the boss got carried away, it’s because, at that moment, he expects to make a copious profit very quickly. As in the best era of the pre-Internet bubble, Altice initially plans to resell the baby. Then, in a second, listing Teads on the stock exchange, featuring the company on Nasdaq. This is what is called in the small business world IPO (Initial public offering). Altice executives dream of valuing cash at more than five billion dollars🇧🇷 Magical as a unicorn, we tell you.

Teads, Patrick Drahi didn’t want any more for a long time… /
Credits: Teads

In June 2019, Altice plans to part ways with its “unicorn”, as Les Échos revealed:

“According to our information, more than a dozen investment funds, including seven Anglo-Saxons, such as HVAC🇧🇷 KKR, Cinven and Blackstone are in the running. 🇧🇷

The daily specifies that a British press group, as well as an American telecom operator and a digital giant are also closely monitoring the file. Altice categorically denies:

“We don’t have any specific plans to sell Teads. 🇧🇷

However, according to internal group documents, Patrick Drahi tried to sell to Teads. In 2019, Altice starts negotiations with Silver Lake), an American technology private equity company. Internally, this project bears the name of “Tigre”, but ended up stumbling.

the failed IPO

Altice will change her tune. The group now plans to IPO Teads. The deal was expected to close in the summer of 2021🇧🇷 The terms of this operation were even filed with the regulatory body of the North American market (the DRY🇧🇷 Les Echos, again, details the project:

“Most of the sale in the market will benefit Altice, as the group intends to sell more than 33 million shares. (…) Depending on the price chosen for the IPO and depending on the number of securities sold, the telecommunications group will receive between 504 and 650 M€. He will still control nearly 70% of Teads. 🇧🇷

Pierre Chappaz, the founder “could pocket more than 30 million euros alone. But most of all, he is expected to receive US$35.3m (€30m) in fees for his contribution to the IPO, to which can be added US$20m (€17m) in performance bonuses for his role as manager. That bonus could also be paid to the second founding director, Bertrand Quesada, who joined the venture in 2009 through Wikio’s acquisition of its start-up Ebuzzing. 🇧🇷

Everything was going so well… We were going to create close to 4.5 billion worth of a company bought for less than 300 million and therefore line our pockets. But boom, “market conditions are not met”Altice withdraws from listing Teads on Nasdaq and announces it in August 2021.

The founders gorge themselves

a failure that IPO 🇧🇷 Not for everyone: the aborted operation was very profitable for the two founders of Teads. On December 31, 2021, the partners of Altice Teads SA decided to grant a kind of bonus (fee) to the two founders, Pierre Chappaz and Bertrand Quesada. The first would raise US$ 55.9 million and the second US$ 20.6 million🇧🇷 What were those sums? To your role in preparing the canceled July 2021 introduction:

“The Chairman explains that, although the IPO was not completed in July 2021′, the contribution (…) of Mr. Pierre Chappaz still has value and will have a positive impact on any new IPO process on the stock exchange that will be released ‘the future .. That is, the two founders of the company have done their job, which consists of preparing the IPO of their box, but it is so wonderful that they receive a bonus of tens of millions of dollars. Great bonus for one IPO failed…


Pierre Chappaz, “could pocket more than 30 million euros alone. But most of all, he is expected to receive €30m in fees for his contribution to the IPO, to which can be added $20m (€17m) in performance bonuses for his role as manager. 🇧🇷
Credits: Drahileaks

In 2022, Altice, which definitely does not know what to do with its unicorn, is seriously considering merging Teads and Outbrain, a company that is particularly greedy in terms of personal data and that offers “putaclics” editorial content at the bottom of articles in many media. Outbrain’s idea is to drive web traffic to sponsored content through clicks on compelling headlines after classic news articles. Finally they give up🇧🇷 But they would have a new idea: to buy Vistar Media Inc for the modest amount of 247 million. No official announcement yet…


In 2022, Altice is seriously considering the merger of Teads and Outbrain. 🇧🇷
Credits: Drahileaks

Unicorns don’t just leave rainbow trails in the skies. They scatter millions of dollars🇧🇷

For TO READ FURTHERMORE : #DrahiLeaks: Bernard and Jacques Attali, dear friends of Patrick Drahi

Front cover illustration by Caroline Varon, research by Antoine Champagne.

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