California-based mobile ad tech company AppLovin has offered $17.5 billion to acquire Unity in an all-stock deal, Reuters reports (opens in new tab). The deal would leave Unity with 55% of the shares of the company resulting from the merger, which comes to 49% of the voting rights.
You've heard of Unity, given that its engine seems to run everything that Unreal Engine doesn't these days, but you might not know AppLovin. The company made its name with its marketing and analytics platforms that provide developers the tools to promote and monetise their mobile apps. Advertising technology, in other words. They do have some tendrils in games, though: they bought mobile game maker Machine Zone a couple of years ago, and even bought that other Wordle (opens in new tab) last May.
The offer comes hot on the heels of Unity's July announcement that it would be merging with ironSource, a company mostly notorious for developing a malware installer called InstallCore (opens in new tab) back in the early 2010s. Game devs who use Unity were less than thrilled by that prospect, to say the least.
Nevertheless, it was that announcement that spurred AppLovin to draw up its own proposal, but not because of any interest in ironSource. In fact, AppLovin's proposal to Unity requires the latter to terminate its merger with ironSource before it can combine with AppLovin. Unity devs may not want to relax just yet, though: the stipulation isn't due to squeamishness over ironSource's history with malware. It's because AppLovin already does all the stuff ironSource can do perfectly well on its own.
Besides a statement that Unity's board would "thoroughly evaluate" the AppLovin proposal, the company has been keeping quiet about how it intends to play this one. Unity CEO John Riccitello began an earnings call yesterday with a straightforward statement that no one would be discussing the offer at this early stage, so it remains to be seen which way they'll choose to go. Either way, though, it feels pretty hard to get excited about it.