AdBrite Raises $23 Million


Updated after jump Online advertising company AdBrite has raised $23 million in third-round funding, according to a regulatory filing discovered by peHUB. Return backers include Sequoia Capital and hedge fund Artis Management (which often gloms onto Sequoia for hot VC deals). Unclear if any newbies also signed on. 

The San Francisco-based company was founded in June 2004 by Philip “Pud” Kaplan, who had been best known for dotcom obituary site FuckedCompany.com. The initial vision was simple: Let online publishers interact directly with text and html advertisers, rather than with fee-taking middlemen like Google. It enabled users to place a display box on their sites saying “Wanna advertise?” (or something more professional), and then wait for the proverbial phone to begin ringing. It also can work from the other end, by helping advertisers target their message to particular audiences.

AdBrite got a bit more professionalized in early 2006, by hiring former Shopping.com president Iggy Fanlo as CEO. Since then, it’s introduced such features as an “auction” system for ad purchasing, “full-page” ads for larger advertisers and a way to insert advertising or other branding on digital photos.

adbrite.jpgIt previously raised a $4 million Series A round in July 2004 and an $8 million Series B round in February 2006. Board members include Fanlo, Kaplan, fellow co-founder Michael Wise, Sequoia’s Mark Kvamme and marketing guru Peter Sealey.

Download the filing here: adbrite.pdf (you’ll notice AdBrite listed the equity on the “debt” line, but that’s also what it did on their Series B filing).

Update: Om Malik thinks that the round might not be finished yet, and I have no reason to doubt his intuition. Particularly because a round like this just screams “outside lead.”

No word yet from the company, although I got 30 seconds on the phone with Iggy Fanlo — because he thought I was his scheduled 11am call (I wasn’t). Hoping to chat with him at some point soon, though… perhaps when I’m done speaking at MIT tonight.

Update #2: Company has just issued a press release, confirming $23 million as the final number. New investors on the round included DAG Ventures and Mitsui & Company.

Here is the release:

AdBrite Announces $23 Million in Series C Funding

San Francisco – November 30, 2007 – AdBrite, the Internet’s Ad Marketplace, today announced $23 million in Series C venture funding.  The current round includes follow-on investment by Sequoia Capital as well as new participation from DAG Ventures and Mitsui Ventures.  AdBrite also announced the appointment of Peter Sealey, former Coca-Cola CMO, to the company’s board of directors. 

The closing of additional blue-chip investment capital crowns a year of expansion and transformation for AdBrite.  In the past twelve months, AdBrite launched a real-time auction model and an expanding range of ad formats to deliver transparency and price-efficiency for online advertisers and publishers. 

“A steady succession of product innovations – including BritePic, Full Page Ad, and our new Facebook App Channel – have fueled AdBrite’s rapid growth.” said Ignacio Fanlo, CEO of AdBrite.  “This additional funding and new board expertise will help accelerate our expansion.”

Deloitte‘s Rising Star program recently named AdBrite the third-fastest-growing young technology company in North America.  AdBrite is also the third-largest ad provider in the US, behind only Google and Advertising.com in page-views, according to Comscore’s October ranking of advertising networks.

The current round of funding is the company’s third.  Sequoia Capital led AdBrite’s Series A round in 2004, and was joined in 2006 by Artis Capital Management for the Series B.

 “We saw from the very beginning that AdBrite’s unique platform could bring increased efficiency and transparency to online advertisers and publishers,” said Mark Kvamme, Partner at Sequoia Capital.  ”We are pleased with AdBrite’s progress in building the Internet’s most transparent and trusted advertising marketplace.”

“AdBrite’s success to date demonstrates the considerable market demand for new, more effective online ad formats and a simple, efficient way for advertisers to reach engaged consumers on premier mid- and long-tail content sites,” said Young Chung, Partner at DAG Ventures. “We’re excited to help AdBrite expand on its leadership position and enhance its unique offerings.”

Peter Sealey Joins Board of Directors

In a sign of AdBrite’s increasing commitment to enabling major brands to advertise online, the company announced the appointment of former Coca-Cola CMO Peter Sealey to its board of directors. While at Coke, Sealey was responsible for the now-famous “Always Coca-Cola” advertising campaign. He also served as President of Marketing and Distribution at Columbia Pictures in the late 80’s where his releases include Ghostbusters, La Bamba, Karate Kid, Stand By Me & Tootsie.

About AdBrite
AdBrite is the Internet’s Ad Marketplace.  The company makes it easy to buy and sell advertising online, giving advertisers and publishers more transparency and control than any other ad network. With innovative products like BritePic, InVideo and Full Page Ad, AdBrite has created a simple and more effective advertising marketplace for advertisers and publishers of all sizes. AdBrite serve ads on over a billion pages a day.

AdBrite was founded by Philip Kaplan and Gidon Wise in 2002 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. AdBrite is backed by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, and Mitsui Ventures. For more information, visit www.adbrite.com

About Sequoia Capital
Sequoia Capital provides startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bob Swanson of Linear Technology, Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Jen-Hsun Huang of nVIDIA, Michael Marks of Flextronics, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube and Steve Goldman and Sujal Patel of Isilon Networks. To learn more about Sequoia Capital visit http://www.sequoiacap.com/.

About DAG Ventures

DAG Ventures is a venture capital partnership investing in and helping outstanding entrepreneurs create leading, long-term companies across a range of markets. With roots from the 1980’s in cable TV, infrastructure, media, and wireless industries, the partnership today is privileged to work with world-class entrepreneurs as they build tomorrow’s leaders in the information technology, energy, and life science sectors.

About Mitsui Ventures

Mitsui Ventures is a provider of early stage venture capital for various types of technology firms with a special expertise in helping to build their businesses globally. Over the years, we have invested in breakthrough technologies in the communication, software, information series, life science, and medical device industries and accelerated their growth worldwide. MVC Corp. based in Tokyo is the HQ for Mitsui & Co.’s global venture capital operation, with its US arm Mitsui & Co. Venture Partners (MCVP) located in New York and Silicon Valley, they manages more than $400 million in venture capital. Its parent, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. is one of the largest and world’s most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment, and service enterprises in Japan.

Find new deal opportunities, super-charge your fundraising efforts and track top managers with VCJ. Get your FREE trial! Or subscribe now!