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News Corp drops Rubicon stock as it mulls programmatic strategy

News Corp's recent actions would suggest its preferred adtech partner is now AppNexus

Only a matter of days after its leadership spoke publicly to investors about its ambitions to launch its own “programmatic ad network”, News Corp has offloaded all its investment in under-fire adtech outfit Rubicon Project, in a sign that many are interpreting as a wholesale defection to rival AppNexus.

AdExchanger staff picked up on a note published on Rubicon Project’s investor relations page, issued on Friday, and has since confirmed with the adtech outfit that the world’s largest traditional publishing company has ended its investment in Rubicon, which dates back as far as 2010.

The note shows how News Corp offloaded its 8% investment of publicly listed Rubicon Project, a move that came soon after its chief executive spoke publicly about its ambitions to soon unveil “a programmatic ad network”, one that comes within six months of it investing $10m in rival adtech outfit AppNexus.

Rubicon Project has experienced a difficult time from investors since going public in 2014, during the last year in particular, a period when its management conceded to investors that it had lost ground in the race to dominate the de-rigueur header bidding space. During the last 12 months Rubicon has seen the departure of several high-profile names from the company, a period that also saw it announce it is to lay off 19% of its global workforce, closed down recently acquired units of the company, plus reportedly explore the option of a sale.

Despite several high-profile investment advisors claiming the adtech outfit was being too severely judged by Wall Street, investors have failed to take heed of this counsel, and apart from its stock price experiencing a much-needed double-digit increase in recent weeks, Rubicon's stock price is still much below the highs it enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of its IPO.

The Drum contacted News Corp for comment, but it was unable to respond by time of publication.

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