AppNexus Hires Ex-CEO of 24/7 Media As CFO

Public experience hints at Wall Street ambitions

AppNexus has hired former 24/7 Media CEO Jon Hsu as chief financial officer, adding another veteran of the ad tech world and signaling its ambitions to eventually take the company public.

CEO Brian O’Kelley told Adweek that Hsu’s hire solidifies the leadership at AppNexus, a team that already includes people like Michael Rubenstein, who once helped run Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Hsu, who most recently led eco-tech startup Recyclebank, helmed 24/7 when it was a publicly traded company and sold to WPP–for $650 million in 2007. Beyond the new hire, AppNexus hasn't taken other steps to go public–such as hiring banks–and next year would likely be the earliest AppNexus could first trade on Wall Street, O’Kelley said.

“Many companies in this space are going public or trying to go public, but our philosophy is to build and go public when the time is right,” O’Kelley said. “Having an extraordinary executive like John helps us do both, so it’s a big moment.”

Just last week, The Rubicon Project, a rival in the exchange space, held an initial public offering, seeing shares rise from $15 on opening day to about $19 by the end of the week. A number of other companies, including Rocket Fuel, Criteo and YuMe, went public last year.

AppNexus has been building mobile advertising infrastructure, and last year it partnered with Millennial Media on a mobile exchange, which O’Kelley said has proved its readiness.

“We’re seeing the biggest apps in world using AppNexus as part of their monetization,” he said. To satisfy the app clients, the platform has to be crash proof, O’Kelley said.

Since August, the mobile business is 15 times larger, but AppNexus did not reveal exact revenue or other detailed financial data. The company did say that it handled more than $1 billion in ad spend in 2013.

AppNexus raised $75 million from investors last year, and did not rule out raising more before an eventual public run. O’Kelley said the company still has plenty of cash from earlier fundraising, but could tap more investment if it looks to acquire other companies.

Hsu also will assume the role of COO. The company also named Geir Magnusson, the onetime tech chief at New York’s Gilt Groupe and 10gen, as CTO.