Acquisitions / Advertising

STAQ has been acquired by Operative, adding to Baltimore’s adtech legacy

The acquisition brings together two companies working on automating advertising. It's the latest in a line of Baltimore companies to be acquired that trace back to

STAQ opened an office above Power Plant LIVE! in 2015. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

A milestone moment was added to the timeline of Baltimore’s adtech history this week, as STAQ was acquired by New York-based Operative, the companies said this week.

STAQ is part of a line of Baltimore-rooted companies, tracing back to early aughts juggernaut, that built software to power digital advertising and attracted a client roster of big media brands. In STAQ’s case, there’s a direct lineage to Cofounder James Curran worked at and Lotame before starting the company with Mike Subelsky in 2012. STAQ has a local team of 15 people focused on tech and product-focused team with a base in downtown Baltimore, as well as an office in New Jersey.

STAQ’s technology collects ad performance reporting data from adtech sources, and joins it together into a dashboard. This provides a singular source of data that helps publishers and advertisers to draw insights quickly. In the last few years, it has been working on “scaling the technology and the data we collect for customers, and focusing on delivering value, through products and insights that help our clients compete in today’s market,” Curran told

The data available has increased in size and scope, as both publishers and advertisers seek more. STAQ can process “billions of data points daily,” Curran said, and help them manage and understand it.

Operative also works brings software to advertising, working with clients across TV and video, as well as digital and print formats.

“There’s always been a lot of synergy between Operative and STAQ with our core values and product offerings. We’ve had the same mission of automating ad operations across the tech stack,” Curran said. “We just happened to start at opposite ends of the spectrum and meet in the middle. Both companies have been working together for a long time across shared clients, but at this time in particular, the convergence of digital and TV advertising is happening, and STAQ’s ability to join data across these mediums helps to accelerate that process.”

Given that it is an open platform which works with others, Curran said STAQ’s brand will remain visible. The two companies will work to deepen the integration they already have, and add features.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Curran said they were “good for everyone involved,” including Operative, as well as STAQ investors and employees.

When it comes to Baltimore, it’s part of a story that touches a larger group. There were local mentors and advisors, as was demonstrated at a 2015 ribbon cutting where local entrepreneurial leader Greg Cangialosi cut the ribbon.

And of course it all starts with Startup communities are built on a flywheel effect of founders forming companies, selling them, and turning around to invest in others or start more. has been a prime example for Baltimore.

After the team built foundational technology for internet advertising and sold to AOL in 2004 for $435 million, Curran was among a group of executives who started companies tackling different parts of adtech. There’s data management company Lotame, where Curran also worked, video advertising company Videology, mobile advertising with Millennial Media and cross-platform advertising company Mediaglu. Those companies were all involved with STAQ at some point, as well, Curran said. And as they exited, their execs are now leading another generation of Baltimore companies in adtech and beyond like, Tradeswell,, Whitebox, Truvelop, Enradius and QL2.

“Nearly two decades later, that ripple effect is still going today and I don’t think it will stop,” Curran said. “It’s so wonderful to see it.”

Companies: Staq /

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