Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Still More Ad Tech Money! Rocket Fuel Rounds Up $50 Million.

Smart people keep telling me that there’s too much money plowed into ad tech start-ups.

And I repeat that conventional wisdom every time I write up yet another funding announcement for an ad tech company.

So here we go: Rocket Fuel, which operates what is essentially a tech-infused ad network, has raised a giant $50 million round, led by existing investor Northgate Capital.

Rocket Fuel also pulled in new money from Summit Partners and Cross Creek Capital, along with investments from earlier backers like Nokia Growth Capital. The four-year-old company has now taken in more than $76 million.

CEO George John says none of that money went out to employees or other investors. He says he’ll stockpile most of the round, so he can fuel internal expansion and/or M&A.

And if you’re interested in tracking the “What Did the Facebook IPO Do to Late Stage Deals?” meme, he says that he closed about half of the round after Mark Zuckerberg’s offering.

Oh. You’d like to know what the company does? Fair enough.

Rocket Fuel’s pitch involves references to “artificial intelligence advertising solution.” But the plain-English explanation is that they buy media on behalf of marketers, and use their own targeting technology to improve the ad buy’s efficiency.

Rocket Fuel says it generated gross revenue of $45 million last year, but bear in mind that the company’s net revenue, after factoring in the cost of the ad inventory it buys for its clients, will be much less than that. Still, John says that in the last couple months his company has hit a $100 million annual run rate, so he has a growth story to tell.

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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