Japan’s SoftBank Invests $200M in Mobile Ad Startup

InMobi CEO promises aggressive international expansion

Mobile ad startup InMobi just announced that it has raised $200 million from Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank, in what the startup is calling the largest mobile investment of the year.

Before this round, InMobi raised $15 million from famous firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures. CEO Naveen Tewari said the new funding allows the company to aggressively pursue plans for international growth. InMobi has offices in 15 countries, but he predicted that the ad network will eventually build a significant audience in "50 to 60."

"The mobile advertising business is not going to be concentrated in a handful of countries" he said, later adding, "You can't manage that business centrally. We're going to make a lot of investments and go deep in those markets."

In the past few years, InMobi has made a "significant impact" in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, Tewari said, with China and Korea among the countries targeted for expansion. The company claims it now serves 44 billion ad impressions each month.

InMobi will also spend the money on hiring engineers and potential startup acquisitions. (It recently purchased Sprout, a startup building tools for the creation of rich media ads.) Tewari emphasized InMobi's desire to be a "whole ecosystem play," not just an ad network, by offering mobile application developers whatever they need to make money, whether it's through advertising, payments, or other means.

SoftBank seems to be increasingly involved in high-profile American startups. For example, it invested $150 million in social game maker Zynga, and it also partnered with Twitter to offer smartphones linked to the messaging service.

Kleiner and Sherpalo, meanwhile, did not participate in the new funding. Tewari said the round was too big for Kleiner's venture capital fund (the source of the previous investment), and it didn't make sense to include Kleiner's growth fund (for larger investments).

Publish date: September 15, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/japans-softbank-invests-200m-mobile-ad-startup-134879/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT