Recently, most tech companies on the public markets may have fared badly. However, behind the scenes there are some seriously interesting pre-IPO tech startups you need to consider.
The following ranking examines at the top 29 pre-IPO companies. The rank is decided not only by revenues, but have also taken into account headcounts, venture funding, and recent news and whispers. Take a look at the ranking factors at the end of the list.
CEO: Dan Greenberg
Estimated revenues: We believe around $US30-$US40 million, net.
Total venture funding: $US28 million
Comment: The company operates a ‘native’ ad exchange and is targeting annual revenue of $US100 million by the end of the year. It is profitable.
CEO: Amit Avner
Estimated revenues: We estimate around $US30 million
Total funding to date: $US32 million
Comment: Taykey’s latest funding round was led by Eric Schmidt’s venture arm Innovation Endeavours. The company, which plugs its software into more than 50,000 social sources — such as YouTube, DailyMotion, and BuzzFeed — to provide insights to marketers on what is trending now for their desired audiences says it has grown revenue by 600% since January 2013. Avner told us he expects this triple digit growth to continue into 2015.
CEO: Jan Rezab
Estimated revenues: Greater than $US30 million.
Total venture funding: $US34 million
Comment: Rezab was named one of Forbes’ ’30 under 30′ in marketing and advertising earlier this year. His social media management and analytics company has more than 2,700 clients, and is considering the possibility of going public. Rezab says the Prague-based company has doubled in size every year ‘for a while now,’ and this year it is concentrating its efforts on US expansion.
CEO: Scott Button
Estimated revenues: $US42 million in 2014
Total venture funding: $US25 million
Comment: The London-based video ad tech company increased revenue by 23% year on year, helped by the continued shift of ad dollars from TV to digital. Last year Unruly opened an APAC HQ in Singapore, and it launched new products including a programmatic media trading platform to guarantee the viewability of video ads, a skippable pre-roll ad format, and a native in-feed format.
CEO: Mark Rabe
Estimated revenues: $US70 million, gross
Comments: Sojern has an unusual niche in ad tech: it specialises in ad targeting for the travel industry. The company claims to be able to reach 200 million traveller profiles in its database. Sojern opened an office in London about a year and a half ago under managing director Stephen Taylor. This year the company opened offices in Singapore and Dubai (it previously had sites in San Francisco, Omaha and New York.)
CEO: Yoav Izhar-Prato
Estimated revenues: ~$US50 million to $US100 million in 2014.
Total venture funding: $US49.7 million
Comment: The Tel Aviv-based company handles tens of billions of dollars worth of search, local, and social media advertising. It is one of Google’s biggest clients in terms of buying shopping ads. Its chief executive said it is planning on a US IPO in 2015, that could value the company at $US750 million, adding in an interview with Bloomberg ‘it’s healthy for us to be a public company.’
CEO: Steve Wadsworth
Estimated revenues: ~$US100 million, around the same as in 2011.
Total venture funding: $US65 million
Comment: Tapjoy helps app developers make money through its advertising platform. Its software is embedded in more than 270,000 apps and it reaches more than 520 million monthly active users. Last year Tapjoy acquired Korean startup 5Rocks, as part of its aims to become a one-stop-shop for mobile app developers.
CEO: Harry Kargman
Estimated revenues: We estimate greater than $US80 million.
Total venture funding: $US0
Comment: Unusually for an ad tech company, Kargo has raised zero venture funding to date, which places it in a prime position for outside investor interest. Kargo has built its business on a publisher platform that combines content with native brand advertising from the likes of McDonald’s, AT&T, Unilever — 150 customers in total. It began trading on mobile viewability last year, guaranteeing advertisers 80% in-view ads or their money back.
CEO: Tim Cadogan
Estimated revenues: $US100 million net revenue in 2014
Total venture funding: $US75.5 million
Comment: Cadogan declines to rule out an IPO, and there are whispers in the industry that the company may now be close to filing. Milestones this year include achieving the top spot in Pixalate’s global seller trust index and posting ‘double digit EBITDA.’ OpenX is second only to Google’s DoubleClick when it comes to the amount of ad impressions served, according to data from Evidon.
CEO: Ragy Thomas
Estimated revenues: Believed to be aiming for $US100 million this year
Total venture funding: $US123.5 million
Comments: Last year Sprinklr — an enterprise social media management company — acquired TBG Digital, one of Facebook’s largest ad-buying clients. Combined, the companies process more than $US100 million in annual media spend for clients including Microsoft, Vodafone, Intel, and Dell. Sprinklr has also acquired four companies since. Sprinklr was planning an IPO, and CEO Thomas is known to want to build a ‘$US10 billion company.’
CEO: Shawn Riegsecker
Estimated revenues: Projected ~$US100 million this year, according to industry sources
Total venture funding: $US22.5 million
Comment: Centro’s advertising platform is used by advertising agencies to manage the workflow of their digital campaigns. The company launched a demand-side platform in May, which claims to be mobile-first. The Centro DSP was specifically designed to meet the needs of smaller advertisers that find it hard to develop relationships with the bigger demand-side platforms due to minimum spends and set-up fees. Centro claims to have 2,500 customers and sources tell us the company is looking to raise more funding this year.
CEO: Mike Baker
Estimated revenues: $US118.4 million in 2013
Total venture funding: $US55.8 million
Comment: In March DataXu launched a new platform called OneView that aims to solve one of marketers’ biggest mobile headaches: targeting and measuring consumers as they switch from device to device. The company, which was founded by MIT astronautics and aeronautics scientists, who wrote the programs that guided NASA’s Mars mission plans, now has over 400 customers including Vodafone, Ford, and General Mills. Baker claims the company grew revenue by 50% year over year in 2014.
CEO: Dipanshu Sharma
Estimated revenues: We estimate around $US130 million.
Total venture funding: $US74 million
Comment: The location-focused advertising network claims to allow nearly 1 million advertisers to reach 300 million unique people each month. The company itself is growing worldwide, having recently announced it had hired agency veteran Brand Starkoff to lead its US sales team, and expanded into Spain and Italy. Prior to that it has also poached executives from Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Posterscope this year. Because the company is laser-focused on location, we predict it is more likely a M&A target than an IPO candidate.
CEO: Rajeev Goel
Revenues: ~$US130 million revenue run rate in 2014
Total venture funding: $US63 million
Comments: PubMatic said its revenue increased 90% year on year in 2014, while ‘doubling its rate of profitability.’ Last year the company expanded into new markets including Japan, Singapore, Italy, Brazil, the Middle East, and North Africa.
CEO: Aaron Bell
Revenues: ~$US150 million annual run-rate
Total venture funding: $US89 million
Comment: AdRoll is one of the partners of Apple’s move to bring programmatic ad buying to its iAd platform for the first time. More than 15,000 advertisers use its retargeting platform worldwide. And lots of ex-Googlers work there.
CEO: Joe Apprendi
Revenue: ~$US200 million
Total venture funding: $US86.4 million
Comment: Apprendi stated the company was not in the market for an IPO: ‘Being well-capitalised and private is better than ‘open kimono’ right now,’ referring to the performance of the large ad tech companies on the public market. Collective prides itself on offering clients transparency about how their money is spent, the cost of inventory bought, and the results they get. Last year it divested its dynamic creative optimization tech — branded Ensemble — to Adobe.
CEO: Konrad Feldman
Estimated revenues: We estimate a ~$US200 million net revenue annual run rate
Total venture funding: $US61.2 million
Comment: Quantcast hired a new CFO, and its first SVP of engineering in December — big hires from The Weather Company and Amazon, respectively. Back in October it made a big acquisition: Struq, a London-based cross-device retargeting company. Quantcast is focusing its efforts on programmatic ads, and it keeps on growing, all while staying EBITDA positive, we are told.
CEO: Corey Ferengul
Estimated revenues: ~$US200 million
Total venture funding: $US40 million.
Comment: Undertone focuses its efforts on the creative, media, and tech that allows advertisers to create video ads that work across all different sizes of screen. It recently acquired a programmatic company called Upfront, and in April began selling its splashy video ad format programmatically.
CEO: Bill Wise
Estimated revenues: Owler estimates more than $US233 million
Total venture funding: $US40.5 million
Comment: Mediaocean runs $US100 billion in media spend through its platforms for more than 80,000 advertisers. It’s one of the first partners to Facebook’s Atlas ad platform, and recently it extended its platform to cover TV advertising through a partnership with iSpot.tv. The company was reportedly worth $US1.5 billion back in 2012.
CEO: Yaron Galai
Estimated revenues: $US260 million in 2014, according to AmigoBulls
Total venture funding: $US99 million
Comment: The content recommendation company has been expected to file an IPO ‘imminently’ since last year. But in November the company filed confidentially with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking preliminary approval to list on the Nasdaq, according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ’s sources say Outbrain is expected to seek a valuation of around $US1 billion. But nothing else related to the IPO has surfaced publicly since.
CEO: Naveen Tewari
Estimated revenues: $US400 million, according to The Economic Times of India.
Total funding to date: $US220.6 million
Comment: Rumours emerged back in March that InMobi was subject to an acquisition offer from Google. Tewari quickly dismissed these rumours saying ‘there is no reason to sell,’ although he has long-hinted that the company may be preparing for an IPO. However, the company has struggled recently to raise interest from investors beyond Japanese internet company SoftBank, and is yet to turn a profit, according to sources.
CEO: Scott Ferber
Estimated revenues: ~$US300 million in 2014
Total venture funding: $US134.2 million
Comment: The company was ‘preparing’ for an IPO in 2015, but the market has changed a lot since March 2014, so it may not happen. The video ad tech company said earlier this month it had seen programmatic mobile video campaigns jump 81% in Q1 — one of the rising trends in advertising.
CEO: Joe Zawadzki
Estimated revenues: $US300 million to $US400 million (according to our estimates.)
Total venture funding: $US207.5 million
Comment: Last year we asked a bunch of executives which company they thought was the hottest ad tech startup, and MediaMath’s name kept coming up. The company claims to be profitable and said sales last year reached $US311 million. In October it acquired social advertising firm Upcast, building out its ad tech stack to social channels like Facebook.
CEO: Adam Singolda
Estimated revenues: $US300 million+ annual revenue run-rate.
Total venture funding: $US117+ million
Comment: The company shouldn’t expect an IPO any time soon. Instead the company wants to expand into new geographies and keep growing its market share. Taboola’s content discovery platform is huge. Its sponsored content reaches more desktop users in the US than Facebook, Yahoo, and YouTube, according to comScore’s syndicated ad rankings. It’s expanding globally too, having recently signed investment and partnership deals with Yahoo Japan and Baidu in China.
CEO: Tomer Bar Zeev
Estimated revenues: ~$US350 million gross revenue run rate
Total venture funding: $US105 million
Comment: IronSource is a Tel Aviv-based mobile ad tech company, offering user acquisition, conversion, monetisation, analytics, and optimization tools. It announced the opening of a London office in April to better serve its European customers, and it is strongly tipped to go public late this year or early next, with a valuation of more than $US1 billion.
CEO: Brian O’Kelley
Estimated revenues: We estimate greater than $US250 million and maybe as much as $US300 million
Total venture funding: $US250 million
Comment: In September last year WPP, the world’s largest ad agency holding company, announced it was investing $US25 million in AppNexus, taking its stake from 1% up to 15%. The deal basically saw WPP commit to funelling its clients’ ad money through AppNexus, securing future revenue. In addition, AppNexus also acquired WPP’s profitable Xaxis for Publishers unit (a product that serves ads for website publishers) as part of the deal. In March AppNexus acquired analytics company Yieldex for $US100 million in cash and stock to further grow out its ad tech stack.
CEO: Ben Silbermann
Estimated revenues: We don’t know, but analysts predict the company will generate $US500 million in revenues by 2016.
Total funding: $US1.3 billion
Comment: Pinterest has been fundraising at a remarkable clip. The company’s co-founder Evan Sharp plans to spend the coming year focusing on international growth and making its Pins more ‘actionable.’ About 80% of its traffic comes from mobile, and last year it launched a ‘guided search’ function to help people narrow down their results. Many people may think of Pinterest as a social network, but it’s valuable war chest of intent data — products users are thinking about or aspire to buying — make it an extremely useful advertising tool.
How this list is ranked?
Here are the important factors:
- Revenues. This is the single most important factor in our ranking. Companies with solid businesses have revenues they can talk about in dollars, not blind percentage ‘growth’ claims. Companies that are modest about their revenues are usually modest for good reason.
- Total employees. Companies tend to hire more people because they’re handling more business. Headcount is a good proxy for growth, despite having too many employees can drive down margins.
- Funding. Investors tend to want their money back. So companies that have taken a lot of investment funding are under greater pressure to IPO than those that have not.
- Reputation. The reason is simple: companies that like to grow quietly without the distraction of the media spotlight will be easily forgotten.