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isocket Raises $8M Series A, Launches New BuyAds Pro Product for Large Advertisers, New Teammates and Hiring!

by John Ramey on October 31, 2012

isocket raises $8m Series A

$8M in funding isn’t everything, but it’s one of the key ingredients.

isocket’s mission is to make direct ad sales easier for advertisers and publishers. 75% of the money is in “premium” Class 1 ad sales, but over 90% of the technology built in the last decade is for Class 2 remnant (including RTB folks like Google, AppNexus, Rubicon, Pubmatic, etc) – leaving the direct sold space an antiquated nightmare.

Since founding, our scrappy startup has been the pioneer in fixing these direct ad buying/selling problems, and the last year has seen a lot of exciting growth both within our company and the marketplace as a whole. Thousands of publishers ranging from AOL to Gawker and thousands of advertisers from Salesforce to BMW to AppSumo are using isocket. Between the new BuyAds Pro for large marketers (details below), BuyAds.com, our first of their kind ad server integrations, the world’s first API for programmatic direct buying, and lots of new amazing teammates… it’s been a fun year =)

(P.S. isocket is hosting an invitation only event in NYC next week, Nov 8th, to have a frank discussion about all the changes and progress happening in the market around programmatic direct. Want to attend? Let us know!)

The entire isocket family is very excited to announce that we have raised an $8M Series A round of funding from some of the best ad tech investors in the world, lead by new investor Foundry Group (the folks behind Admeld, sold last year to Google for $400M.) New investor Greg Sands of Costanoa joins as well, as did our existing seed investors including DFJ, SoftTech, Accelerator, Quest, and Blumberg Capital.

Seth Levine at Foundry has been the most forward looking and vocal VC regarding the need for programmatic direct sales. For example, here’s his prediction on AdExchanger last year and another update a few months ago. Which makes sense given their experience with Admeld – in a lot of ways isocket is for premium what Admeld was for remnant, and the progress in RTB for remnant over the last few years leads a lot of folks to see premium as the next big thing.

Or in Seth’s words:

isocket is amazing omg omg omg.

OK fine, here’s a real quote:

I have said before that I think we’ll look back at 2012 as a key year where programmatic direct advertising really began to take hold thanks in no small part to the efforts of John Ramey and the isocket team. isocket has a unique and refreshing vision for how to drive real progress in the online ad industry.

The entire group at Foundry – Seth, Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson, and Ryan McIntyre – are considered some of the best VCs in the world (in fact, Brad and Seth often make “most respected VC’s” lists.)

Plus they make awesome music videos. We’re pretty “eccentric” at isocket (read: weird), and couldn’t pass up working with such a talented, suave group of gentlemen:

We’re very excited to work with Foundry, Costanoa, and all our existing investors. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, most notably the many customers and partners who did reference calls on our behalf. You’re amazing and the reason we work so hard <3

I’ve always wanted to be handed a giant check while wearing a suit.

We wanted to have a little fun with Foundry during the closing, so our team dressed in their best to surprise Seth on his last visit. We also presented him with an $80M check, hoping that he wouldn’t notice the extra zero… but the check was issued by the Bank of Greece, so it’s probably futile anyway! (P.S. the memo line says “For changing ad tech, and dressing handsomely!)

Programmatic direct: isocket continues the march with the new BuyAds Pro.

A year ago isocket launched the world’s first API for programmatic guaranteed buying to integrate with 3rd party demand tools – like our friends at the DSP MediaMath. But we got a surprising amount of feedback from advertisers that they either wanted to start buying right away and their DSP / tool of choice wasn’t yet integrated with isocket, and/or there were situations where it didn’t make sense to run orders through an intermediary.

So large marketers asked us to build a tool on top of our API, something advertisers and agencies could log in to. They wanted an app that used our best-of-breed ad tech product design / building skills but geared more towards the pro and agency buyer. So, we obliged.

Here’s a teaser screenshot:

Over the last few months, BuyAds Pro has been beta tested with great success by larger marketers that buy in-house as well as agencies large and small. We’ll highlight more in a future blog post, but here’s some teasers of the new benefits for marketers:

  • Access the world’s largest catalog of 1,000’s of specific publishers with their premium inventory, pricing, and availability.
  • The ability to negotiate / make and accept offers.
  • Frequency capping.
  • Geotargetting down to the DMA.
  • Post-pay performance / actuals-based billing.
  • Native support for demand side ad servers like DFA.
  • Client and campaign management structures.

For the first time in the history of online advertising, marketers can finally access a catalog of 1,000’s of premium publishers and their “top shelf” reserve inventory, with the ability to put a direct media plan together and click a “magic buy button.” That’s it – everything else just works, not a single Excel spreadsheet in sight, and no scanned IOs to fax.

It’s kind of silly how long it took for this to exist in the market, but we’re all glad it’s finally getting there =)

Welcoming Mark Liao, CFO.

A few weeks ago we welcomed 5 new world class people to our team. Today we’re also welcoming our new CFO, Mark Liao, who joins us from Yahoo where he held senior leadership roles as the VP of Business Operations and VP of Operations Finance for the Americas Region. Put simply, he was the finance, metrics and numbers guy for Yahoo advertising and saw what a huge opportunity there is in bringing technology to premium/Class 1 ad sales.

Our amazing team is doubling in size. Join us!

isocket is one of the best early stage opportunities in ad tech right now, and with this new funding we’re growing the team and business in a big way. If you’re a verifiable A-player and ready to dominate a giant untapped space with meaningful challenges, we want to talk with you right away.

Here’s the full list of open jobs. We’ll pay you $3,000 if you send someone our way that joins isocket!

Some spots we’re hiring for right now at both our Silicon Valley HQ and NYC offices are:

  1. VP Engineering
  2. Sr Java Engineer
  3. Entry and mid level full stack backend engineers
  4. Visual / IxD Web Designer
  5. Dev Ops / Sys Admin / IT Engineer
  6. VP Demand (Advertisers)
  7. VP Supply (Publishers)
  8. Publisher Sales – Outside
  9. Publisher Account Manager
  10. Marketing VP/Dir

Thank you to everyone who believes in and contributes to isocket’s mission of making it easier for advertisers and publishers to find each other and do business directly with each other. There’s a lot of mountain left to climb, but we’re enjoying the ride! 

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