Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Exclusive: Google Buys Invite Media

UPDATE: Google has now confirmed the deal.
Google has indeed bought ad technology start-up Invite Media, I’ve confirmed with multiple sources.

As I wrote last month, Invite is a three-year-old “demand-side platform” designed to help buyers navigate high-volume display-advertising exchanges–like the one Google launched last year.

I don’t have  a price for the deal nailed down, but I believe it’s in the $70 million range. Google (GOOG) declined to comment; I haven’t heard back from Invite Media CEO Nat Turner.

People familiar with the transaction say Google’s plan is to leave Invite running as a standalone unit, which will work at arm’s length with exchange’s like Google’s AdX, as well as competitors like OpenX, Yahoo’s (YHOO) Right Media and Microsoft’s (MSFT) AdECN.

That makes sense, because ad buyers who use Invite, like Publicis’s Vivaki, expect to be able to buy inventory from multiple exchanges.

But over time, Google does plan on investing in Invite and integrating it with DoubleClick for Advertisers, its ad-serving technology. Invite users wouldn’t be required to use DFA, but the two would be designed to match up seamlessly, sources said.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of Invite’s competitors, like MediaMath, Turn and X+1, in the wake of this deal. Venture capitalists have poured money into demand-side platforms in recent years, but I’ve heard increasing skepticism about valuations those investors are seeking. And now the most obvious buyer, with the deepest pockets, is off the table.

Turner and his co-founders started Invite Media when they were still undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania; the company has offices in Philadelphia and New York City. Investors include Comcast’s (CMCSA) venture arm and First Round Capital.

Invite had previously considered selling to Omniture last summer, but that deal went away after Adobe (ADBE) purchased the analytics company.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google