Slideshow: More Money Flows into Mobile Ad Startups

A lot of venture capital has gone into mobile advertising startups in the past few months, and Jim Payne has a simple explanation why.

“Advertising dollars tend to flow where people spend the most time, and people are spending a lot of time on their mobile phones,” says Payne, an ex-Googler who is now CEO of mobile advertising startup MoPub. The San Francisco-based company, which runs a service for publishers to manage rich media ads on mobile devices, is one of several startups in the space to close a round in the past weeks. MoPub raised $6.5 million from Accel Partners and Harrison Metal Capital.

All told, venture capital firms have invested well over $100 million so far this year in rounds of $5 million or more for at least nine companies in the mobile ad space, according to peHUB’s analysis of data from Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB). Several more mobile ad companies have raised smaller early stage and seed rounds.

If Payne’s thesis that ad dollars follow eyeballs holds true, then a case could be made that the sector could use more funding. Research firm Gartner Inc. projects worldwide mobile advertising revenue will reach $3.3 billion this year, more than double the $1.6 billion spent on mobile ads in 2010. Gartner predicts worldwide revenue from mobile ads will grow to more than $20 billion by 2015.

Against that backdrop, I’ve compiled a slideshow of the 10 largest funding rounds for companies in the mobile ad space this year, based on data from Thomson Reuters. I’ll forewarn that it’s a squishy category, with some companies operating in the Internet advertising space expanding into mobile but not calling it their key focus area. That said, there seem to be enough to make for an interesting list.
[slideshow]

[slide title=”No. 10: Verve Wireless”]
Location: Encinitas, Calif.
Business: Runs a network for providing local promotions and news on mobile devices.
Latest round: Raised $3.5 million out of a planned $6 million round, according to an April securities filing
Funding to date: Investors include BlueRun Ventures and The Associated Press. Raised $9.5 million between 2008 and 2010, according to Thomson Reuters.

[slide title=”No. 9: Crisp Media”]

Location: New York
Business: Operates an ad platform for rich media campaigns on mobile devices and tablets, as well as desktops and connected TVs.
Latest round: Closed a $6 million growth round in April that included Meritage Funds, Intel Capital and Singapore-based EDBI.

Funding to date: Has raised $11 million in the past three years, according to Thomson Reuters.
[slide title=”No. 8: MoPub”]


Location: San Francisco
Business: Develops an advertising platform for mobile publishers
Latest round: Raised $6.5 million in July from Accel Partners and Harrison Metal.
Funding to date: Not available.

[slide title=”No. 7: Smaato”]

Location: Redwood City
Business: Provides ads for mobile apps
Latest round: Raised a $7 million round in January from Singapore’s EDBI, with participation from existing shareholders, including private equity firm Aeris Capital.
Funding to date: Not available.

[slide title=”No. 6: Beijing Limei Advertising”]

Location: Beijing
Business: Provides mobile media content and promotions
Latest round: Raised $10 million in July from IDG Capital Partners, according to Thomson Reuters

[slide title=”No. 4: JiWire (tied)”]

Location: San Francisco
Business: Develops a location-based advertising service targeting users of smartphones and Wi-Fi-connected devices.
Latest round: Closed a $20 million Series C funding round in May led by Trident Capital and joined by Comcast Interactive Capital, DFJ Frontier, Norwest Venture Partners and Panorama Capital.
Funding to date: With the latest round, total capital raised to date is $45 million

[slide title=”No. 4: OpenX (tied)”]

Location: Los Angeles
Business: Operates a digital advertising platform
Latest round: Closed a $20 million Series round in May led by SAP Ventures with the participation of new investors AOL Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment and Presidio Ventures. Existing investors Accel Partners, Index Ventures and DAG Ventures also participated in the round.
Funding to date: Has raised more than $50 million overall.

[slide title=”No. 3: RadiumOne”]

Location: San Francisco
Business: Digital advertising network that incorporates social networking data. Operates a mobile service called RadiumOne Mobile.
Latest round: Closed a $21 million Series B funding round in March led by Crosslink Capital with participation from DFJ Esprit, Adams Street Partners and Trinity Ventures.
Funding to date: Has raised $33.5 million overall.

[slide title=”No. 1: Mojiva (tied)”]

Location: New York
Business: Operates a mobile advertising network
Latest round: Closed a $25 million Series C round led by Shamrock Capital Advisors in July.
Funding to date: Previously raised capital from Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Pelion Venture Partners

[slide title=”No. 1: Jumptap (tied)”]

Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Business: Provides tools for targeting advertisements on mobile devices.
Latest round: Closed a $25 million round in May from investors including Alliance Bernstein, General Catalyst, Redpoint Ventures, Summerhill Ventures, Valhalla Partners and WPP.
Funding to date: Has raised a total of just over $104 million since 2005, according to Thomson Reuters.

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