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Ad Tech Shop Turn Raises $80M Late-Stage Round In March Toward Eventual IPO

Jan 13 2014, 8:21am CST | by


With millions flowing into ad tech, Turn Inc. has been a bit of an anomaly, not raising money for over three years and working to get cash-flow positive. But the company announced on Monday it has gotten in on the current funding frenzy, raising an $80 million Series E round led by “two of the world’s largest investing firms” that likely values the company at almost $700 million and keeps it on track to look at going public in about a year.

The round more than doubles what Turn has raised to date, bringing its total funding to $135 million. At least one of the lead firms is reportedly BlackRock Inc. The Series E included new investors ClearBridge Investment, Firsthand Technology Value Fund, Northport Investments and Pine River Capital Management, alongside existing investors Focus Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures and Trident Capital.

“We grow nicely, but we can actually grow faster and accelerate more,” says Turn CEO Bill Demas. “We were then able to get a sizable round with a lot of value option in the future.” The money doesn’t change Turn’s timetable for IPO, Demas maintains, but Turn is at the size where the company is likely a year or so from seriously considering that option, whether it needs the added liquidity or not.

“This has no impact on that timing,” says Demas. “We don’t need money right away, but we can control our destiny a bit more.”

Turn also announced Monday some stats on its business, noting that it finished 2013 EBIITDA positive. Earlier reports had pegged Turn at a valuation around $650-700 million. Turn didn’t comment on its valuation in this round, but just under $700 million would seem a reasonable guess.

The company delivers 1.5 trillion ads a month in display, video, mobile and social media across 120 major partners. Turn is known for its ‘demand-side platform,’ essentially a management dashboard that helps advertisers bid on inventory on a range of websites across a few online marketplaces and auction vehicles. That helped the company build out a choosy clientele, increasingly large blue-chip brands themselves, like Chrysler, Microsoft, Toyota and Verizon.

More recently the company has diversified from just standing out as a DSP, adding data management and analytics to its portfolio, allowing advertisers to build and manage audiences they want to reach with their ads. The company says it draws data from 1.3 billion anonymous profiles of Internet users today.

The Silicon Valley-based ad tech firm has also recently sought to build an international footprint, opening offices in Japan and Brazil and now doing business in five continents. Turn now has 20 offices for 350 employees.

2014 could prove a year in which several major ad tech firms look to go public after last year’s IPOs of Rocket Fuel, Tremor Video and YuMe. There are several companies in the $500 million to $1 billion scale who’ve been flirting with going public for a while and could file in the next few months. Mediaocean has told FORBES it will look to plan an IPO in six months. AppNexus, MediaMath and others could also look to enter the market soon.

With this late-stage funding, Turn can maintain pace with others who offer DSP services and analytics in a crowded market. And raising this money to push more territory expansion and focus on profitability will help Turn’s books when it does decide to open them up for Wall Street.

Follow me on ForbesTwitter and Facebook for more tech coverage in startups, ad tech, enterprise software and venture capital.

Source: Forbes

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