Mike Walrath spent his career at online advertising, first at Doubleclick and then at Right Media, where he was CEO before selling it to Yahoo for $850 million in 2007. Now he’s back in the game, investing his own money in startups and launching new ones. But he as an investor, he’s not putting money into ad tech startups. In the Founder Stories video above, he tells host Chris Dixon, “The problem with the adtech space is that it is actually fairly easy to build a company.”
From an investing perspective, “It is hard to pick winners. There is obviously a big market out there but it is very fragmented.” That is not to say he shies away from advertising startups entirely. He is chairman of Yext and is an investor in Inadco, along with Ron Conway, Matt Coffin, and Redpoint Ventures. But he thinks “things are expensive, so you have to pick winners.”
And how does he feel about the prospects of online advertising in general, especially brand advertising and display, which seems to be on the upswing again? He doesn’t completely buy the notion that just because people are spending more time online, ad dollars will follow. Brand marketers are still not convinced that is the best place to put their money. “It’s a little bit of a pipe dream,” says Walrath, “that they will move their TV budgets online.”
What I love about this interview is that although Walrath is a born salesman, he’s not trying to sell anything because he doesn’t have to anymore. You can also catch Part I And Part II of this interview, or watch the entire uncut version below.