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WidgetBucks Adds $10 Million

Mpire, the Seattle-based parent company of online ad network WidgetBucks, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Draper Fisher Jurvetson led the round, and was joined by return backer Ignition Partners.

WidgetBucks, the market leading ad network of retail and shopping widgets for online publishers, today announced it has secured $10 million in Series B funding led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, one of the world's premier venture capital firms. Ignition Partners, which supplied the company's original venture backing, also participated in the financing. The new round enables WidgetBucks — which has gone from launch to five billion ad impressions in its first eight months — to develop three strategic areas: technology to further optimize publisher earnings, global expansion to diversify publisher revenue, and team development to extend the company's engineering, sales and marketing efforts.

In May 2008, 100 million unique visitors saw a WidgetBucks ad widget served across the sites and blogs of more than 20,000 publishers. Seattle-based WidgetBucks is ranked No. 2 among niche ad networks and among the top 30 ad networks (comScore Ad Network report, April 2008).

Through the investment, Bill Bryant, DFJ partner and startup veteran, joins the Board of Directors of Mpire — WidgetBucks' parent company — while DFJ Director Emily Melton joins as a Board observer. WidgetBucks is DFJ's first investment since Bryant joined as venture partner in late 2007 to focus on expanding DFJ's presence in the Seattle-area startup market.

“The investment decision was simple,” said Bryant. “DFJ invests in companies that are bringing disruptive technology to major sectors of the Internet economy. We love what WidgetBucks has built around its ecommerce platform. While the recent growth has been phenomenal, what we invested in is the promise to truly transform performance-based advertising for publishers.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Draper Fisher Jurvetson alongside our original partner, Ignition Partners, to the WidgetBucks family,” said Matt Hulett, CEO and Chairman of Mpire and WidgetBucks. “Today, WidgetBucks is a contextual shopping-focused ad network that has truly taken off in terms of impressions and publisher adoption. Tomorrow, through this new investment and investment partner, our vision as an ad network dramatically broadens to include virtually any type of monetization model that self-tunes and optimizes yield for our publishers.”

About Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Draper Fisher Jurvetson (“DFJ”) backs extraordinary entrepreneurs anywhere who set out to change the world. DFJ achieves its mission through its DFJ Global Network of Partner Funds managing over $6B in more than 30 cities worldwide. Over the past twenty years, DFJ has backed over 500 companies across many sectors including such industry changing catalysts as Hotmail (acquired by MSFT), Baidu (BIDU), Skype (acquired by EBAY), United Online (UNTD), Overture (acquired by YHOO), Athenahealth (ATHN), EnerNOC (ENOC), Interwoven (IWOV), Four11 (acquired by YHOO), Parametric (PMTC), and Digidesign (acquired by AVID).

About Ignition Partners

Ignition Partners is a premier private investment group with offices in Bellevue, Wash., and Shanghai, China. Ignition Partners' affiliated family of funds includes Ignition Ventures and Ignition Growth Capital in the U.S. and Qiming Ventures in China. The investment group's three categories of funds — early stage venture, growth capital and China ventures — brings together an unparalleled combination of domain focus, functional expertise and global operational experience with partners from leadership positions at Microsoft, McCaw Cellular Communications, AT&T Wireless, Cisco, Starbucks and other industry leaders.

About WidgetBucks

WidgetBucks is the market leading ad network of retail and shopping widgets for online publishers. The parent company of WidgetBucks is Mpire Corporation, whose shopping trend expertise, market data relationships and proprietary technology serve as the backbone for the network. Founded in 2005, Mpire and WidgetBucks are backed by Ignition Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.