Independent mobile ad network Jumptap is filling out its team with two more key executives as it continues to prepare for an IPO in 2013 — and look for more M&A activity as it gets there. The company has named Frank Weishaupt, a former VP of advertising marketplaces at Yahoo, to the newly-created role of COO. And joining the board is John Hadl — a partner at U.S. Venture partners as well as a longtime mobile player who had been an advisor to Admob (bought by Google) and Quattro Wireless (bought by Apple), as well as Jumptap rival Millennial Media (now public).
The appointments come in the same month that Jumptap announced $27.5 million in additional funding from Keating Capital, WPP, General Catalyst and others, bringing the total invested to $121.5 million.
Weishaupt most recently was at Criteo, where he had been SVP for the ad-tech firm. He had left Yahoo in 2011 after 10 years with the company “to explore new opportunities closer to home as commuting from Boston to Sunnyvale weekly was tough on a growing family,” he said in an email exchange. In his time at Yahoo, he’d been in a number of roles including VP of Advertising Marketplaces, in charge of the monetization strategy for North America’s search, display and platform businesses. He had also held a role as VP of media sales.
“The experience at Yahoo! is very relevant to the opportunity at Jumptap,” he tells me — perhaps not least because it’a also about making competitive headway against the very dominant Google; but also because of the concept of ad networks taking shape. “When I started at Yahoo! there was no concept of an ad network, advertisers simply purchased contextual advertising from publishers on a direct basis. I had a front row seat as we built one of the biggest networks on the web and evolved the strategy organically and through acquisition. Over the years we constantly tweaked the strategy, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I’ll use those learning experiences and apply them here at Jumptap in the mobile market.”
Jumptap is pressing ahead with its IPO at a time when the mobile advertising space continues to grow along with the rise in smartphone usage. That puts it in competition against the likes of Google and Apple, but also other independents like Millennial Media, and its strategy to stay independent through IPO comes at a time when we are also seeing consolidation, with companies like Opera buying up mobile ad players, and others like InMobi seeing major, strategic investmens from the likes of Softbank. It seems to me that the appointment of Hadl to the board could serve as a useful lever in a number of options for Jumptap — not just the stated route to IPO, but also in acquisitions and partnerships for the mobile ad network.
Jumptap’s mobile ad network currently reaches 107 million users in the U.S., with 156 million in total worldwide, with 20 billion mobile impressions each month. (As a point of comparison, Millennial Media, another of the large independents, says it has a worldwide reach of 300 million users on its ad network.)
Jumptap also owns 29 patents with a futher 200 pending — also potential assets for the company. It claims that one of its most unique selling points as a business is that it is able to target to segments of the market, by matching ads to relevant users and content, better than its competitors. This is a space where all players are converging, however.
Weishaupt dismisses the notion that mobile advertising is a minor blip in the bigger digital ad space. “That’s changing fast,” he told me. “For years we all heard ‘mobile is coming,’ but this year I think you can notice a change in the urgency around mobile. In the past mobile was a nice to have, but as consumer engagement has radically shifted this year mobile has become a top priority for advertisers and publishers alike.”