"I don't know how long the transition will be," Battelle said. "FM is very important to me. That's why I chose this acquisition. They're committed to it. Whatever happens, I'll never stop being the founder of Federated Media."
The content marketing business will take its 65 staffers to Lin, while Sovrn expects to have roughly 100 employees in Boulder and San Francisco. The two will also continue to collaborate on some existing projects, Battelle said.
"Most programmatic business has been driven by direct response the last few years," Battelle said. "But we have always had a better understanding of brands' needs, as our programmatic business learned from the content marketing work we've done. As a corollary, the content-marketing side has learned how to apply the scale that comes from programmatic. Those two areas will still be working together, such as through products like our Content Rich offerings that we released last September. Certain relationships will naturally remain constant."
Sovrn’s Knapp also downplayed the magnitude of the split.
"If you think about the period when Lijit was acquired by FM, in the programmatic space, two years is an eternity," Knapp said. "The market moves really quickly. So it's not fair to say this is retrenching.”
In 2013, Knapp said that programmatic arm grew the network's reach by more than 168% and saw revenues rise by over 93% "off an already large number," though he did not provide specific dollar figures. At the end of last year, that business was paying out $2 million a week to publishers, Knapp added.
FMP has experienced significant upheaval in the past two years. Under former CEO Deanna Brown, the company unveiled its first private marketplace offering in the summer of 2012. Earlier that year, the company drew attention for shifting away from direct guaranteed sales and toward programmatic buying, laying off much of the sales team.