Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Another Web 2.0 Superfunding: Spot Runner Gets $51 Million More


Spot Runner, the online ad agency, delivered yet another Web 2.0 miracle today, raising another $51 million in funding from a diverse group of investors.

Among other services, Spot Runner makes and places low-cost television and radio ads for small businesses and is trying to bridge the gap between the traditional and online ad market.

In this round, those stepping up to invest in the Los Angeles-based start-up include international media giants Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT.L) and Grupo Televisa (TV), investment company Legg Mason Capital Management (LM) and, curiously, luxury conglomerate Groupe Arnault/LVMH (MC.PA).

This group, along with existing investors, forked over the $51 million to add to the $60 million already raised. This appears to give it a massive valuation of upward of $500 million.

Well, at least in the land of Web 2.0 it does. In the real world, it still remains to be seen. But that has not stopped the nonstop investment party of late for Web 2.0 start-ups.

Web-based instant messaging company Meebo recently raised another $25 million at a reported $250 million valuation, while widgeteer Slide got $50 million for a $550 million valuation.

Of course, the champ of them all has been the social-networking site Facebook, which now has a $15 billion valuation.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Or maybe not so much, but obviously no one in Silicon Valley is listening to BoomTown at this Kool-Aid carnival.

Spot Runner’s previous investors are: Allen & Company, Battery Ventures, Comerica Bank (CMA), Lachlan Murdoch, Vivi Nevo, Capital Research and Management, CBS (CBS), Index Ventures, Interpublic Group, Tudor Investment Corporation and WPP.

So far, this group has invested $60 million in Spot Runner. Its board includes Index’s Danny Rimer and former AOL exec Bob Pittman.

“We want to use the investment to make a real penetration in the market,” said Nick Grouf, chairman and CEO of Spot Runner. “We want to expand both organically and through acquisitions, as well as expand our staff, and these strategic investors will help us do that.”

Spot Runner has already been doing that. For example, it recently bought Weblistic, a local search listings creator, and hired former Microsoft exec Joanne Bradford.

The Daily Mail is a large media company based in the United Kingdom, with newspapers, online and radio assets, while Grupo Televisa is one of the largest media conglomerates in the Spanish-speaking world.

Groupe Arnault/LVMH owns some of the world’s toniest brands, including Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy.

Grouf, again along with partner David Waxman, also previously founded PeoplePC and Firefly Networks.

In the spirit of the funding, here’s one of my favorite Kool-Aid commercials:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus