The founder of fallen adtech startup MediaMath is trying to buy back the bankrupt company’s assets

  • MediaMath Cofounder and CEO Joe Zawadzki is assembling a syndicate to buy back the company.
  • It comes after MediaMath filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.
  • Zawadzki left MediaMath in 2021.

According to people familiar with the situation, MediaMath cofounder Joe Zawadzki is looking to put together a syndicate of adtech industry investors to try to buy back the company’s assets at its upcoming bankruptcy auction.

The assets of the now-liquidated company will be auctioned off in Delaware bankruptcy court on August 8 at 4 p.m. eastern time.

“There are a lot of people in the adtech community who have maybe some combination of sympathy and support for Joe and the employees and also believe there could be some residual value there,” said someone with direct knowledge of Zawadzki’s syndicate.

Zawadzki’s plans could still change, and there is no guarantee that the syndicate would be successful in acquiring all or some of its assets.

A MediaMath spokesperson declined to comment. Zawadzki did not respond to a comment request.

If Zawadzki is successful, it will be a remarkable comeback for the company’s former CEO, who was widely regarded as the face of MediaMath until his departure in 2021.

MediaMath was an early adtech pioneer that claims to have invented the demand-side platform — technology that allows advertisers to place ads across the web using automation — when it was founded in 2007. Former employees and industry observers have said Zawadzki’s MediaMath was also ahead of its time in developing tools to help clients understand how their digital ad dollars were being spent.

MediaMath grew to over 700 employees and courted – but ultimately declined – acquisition offers from larger corporations such as IBM, Bain Capital, and Singtel.

In 2020, the company faced a difficult period due to the widespread advertising slowdown and stiff competition from companies such as The Trade Desk and Google. It began to run out of money, and Zawadzki was fired a year later when the company was unable to secure new financing or a buyer.

The company appeared to be stabilizing before collapsing when its new CEO, Neil Nguyen, was given an unexpected three-month deadline by its private-equity owner to sell the company or find new investors.

MediaMath was on the verge of a deal with a new buyer, Media and Games Invest, but when MGI backed out, the company was left with no cash runway and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 30, ceasing operations that day. According to the bankruptcy filings, MediaMath owes at least $125 million to hundreds of creditors.

Any buyer of the company’s assets would be free of the liabilities associated with the bankruptcy process.

Zawadzki told Insider earlier this month that he was interested in acquiring MediaMath’s assets.

“I’d love to see this thing become an industry utility,” Zawadzki said back then. “I would love to see a ‘Project Phoenix’ here.”

It’s unclear what Zawadzki’s plans are for MediaMath the second time around, but a second person with direct knowledge of the situation said the new company would almost certainly look to bring back former employees who know the code.

Two sources in the adtech industry who had indirect knowledge of the syndicate but were not involved and hadn’t discussed it with Zawadzki suggested he look into integrating it with his new fintech startup. Zawadzki is now the chairman of FxM, a fintech startup that aims to provide financing to adtech and media companies in order to reduce their reliance on working capital. According to adtech industry sources, MediaMath’s supply chain optimization assets could become the backbone of FxM’s “SCF+” supply chain financing product.

Zawadzki is also a general partner at AperiamVentures, a venture capital firm that has invested in dozens of adtech startups.

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