Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Rocket Fuel’s IPO May Boost Ad Tech


It was a bad summer for ad tech stocks. But things may be looking up.

Rocket Fuel, whose software helps marketers buy Web ads, begins trading today on the Nasdaq under “FUEL.”

Last night, it sold four million shares at $29 apiece, which was the top end of a pricing range it had already bumped up this week. That generated $116 million for the company, which had raised $76 million through last year, and values it at close to $1 billion.

Ad tech folks — including Criteo, which announced its IPO plans this week —  will watch today’s news closely and try to decide if Rocket Fuel’s performance is indicative of the industry in general, or a one-off.

They might also wonder if a strong performance for Rocket Fuel means that a trial balloon Google has floated to wipe the Web clear of tracking “cookies,” isn’t going to go anywhere.

If you really thought Google was going to replace an industry standard with its own proprietary standard, you might not be optimistic about the future of ad tech companies that aren’t Google.

But here’s an encouraging sign for the rest of the industry: Ad tech startups YuMe and Tremor Media, which had lousy IPOs earlier this summer, are now trading above their initial trading prices.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work