Despite Bleak Outlook, Mobile Ad Startups Keep Getting Funded; Amobee Spurns $150 Million Buyout Offer From Yahoo

amobee.pngIn the previous post on the future of mobile technology, Michael notes the “bleak prospects for mobile advertising revenue” expressed by some mobile carrier CEOs and Fortune 500 executives at a panel at Davos. This dour assessment stands in stark contrast to all the early-stage money going into mobile-ad startups. This week alone, I’ve received several announcements of new VC money going into mobile ad networks, including the $12 million SoftBank Capital put into Ad Infuse earlier this week. There is another $6 million deal about to be announced next week.

And then there is Amobee, a mobile ad network headquartered in San Francisco with R&D in Israel. According to an Israeli press report (in Hebrew), Yahoo tried to purchase the company outright a few months ago for $150 to $200 million. The company turned down the offer, hoping to fetch a higher price later.

Amobee has developed an ad-serving platform allowing mobile operators to inject ads into different types of mobile content, such as video, music, and games. The company claims it provides “precise contextual and behavioral targeting across all users on all handsets for all non-voice related applications and services.” Investors include Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and Globespan, who have put in $20 million-$25 million , plus Vodafone who put in another undisclosed sum in November.

The Fortune 500 crowd on that Davos panel seem to agree with Forrester projections that mobile advertising will have trouble hitting $1 billion in the U.S. by 2012, whereas Amobee cites delirious projections of $11 billion for worldwide mobile advertising by 2011 in its press releases.

So who is right? The pessimists at Davos, or the optimists at these startups and those throwing money at them?

Mobile advertising startups are . . .

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Started: January 25, 2008