5 Adtech companies that have made the US$1bn Unicorn club

We look at five advertising technology vendors that have managed to join the prestigious $1bn tech startup club

The technology industry is now awash with so-called ‘unicorns’ – privately-held companies with a market valuation of US$1bn or more based on their fundraising activities.

According to the latest figures from CB Insights, there are now a record 143 unicorns, with a combined valuation of US$508bn.

Using CB’s figures, as well as insights from several financial investment portals over the past year, we’ve compiled this list of 5 adtech companies who’ve made it to this prestigious tech club, and what they’re doing to achieve such lofty heights.


Valuation: US$1.2bn

Total funding: $363.2m, last round conducted in April 2015

Established: 2007

Based: US

Similar companies: MediaMath, DataXu, RadiumOne

AppNexus delivers programmatic ad trading solutions for digital advertising. The US-based vendor was established by several entrepreneurs from the ad exchange technology industry including former executives from DoubleClick and Yahoo’s Right Media. Investor backers include Microsoft, Venrock, Technology Crossover Ventures, First Round Capital, Mosaic co-founder Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz and Khosla Ventures.

The company claims to be the first to serve an impression via real-time auction, as well as to offer integrated buying, selling and ad serving capabilities in one platform. The as-a-service, open platform allows users to integrate self-developed tools connected via APIs to the core offering.

Headquartered in New York City with 19 global offices, AppNexus set up shop in Australia in March 2014.

In June, the company launched AppNexus Programmable Bidder, allowing agencies and brands to upload proprietary algorithms directly into its platform in order to better tailor and optimise programmatic digital buying using their own data.


Valuation: US$1bn

Total funding: $320.6m, last round September 2015

Established: 2007

Based: US

Similar companies:Flurry, Millennial Media, Lomark, Amobee Media Systems

InMobi operates a mobile advertising platform with an extensive range of ad formats, analytics and monetisation tools for app businesses. The company builds mobile-first customer engagement platforms that transform the economics of influencing global consumers.

Last November, InMobi launched its Audience Platform in the Australian market, which uses segmented data from 872 million unique users globally to better target advertising to consumers via mobile devices. The company also recently struck a partnership with consumer insights firm, Experian, to match mobile data with specific households for the benefit of brands.


Valuation: $1.17bn

Total funding : $123.5m, last round March 2015

Established: 2009

Based: US

Similar companies: Hootsuite, Spredfast, Sprout

Sprinklr is a social media management platform aimed at large enterprises. Features of its SIREn (Social Intent Revelation Engine) platform include social governance and account ownership, social workflow management, approvals across internal business/geographic units and scalable social conversation management across multiple social accounts and channels.

The vendor announced its Sprinklr Experience Cloud earlier this year, a platform aimed at connecting a brand’s various social touchpoints then provide data to marketers to further optimise customer interactions.

In June, Sprinklr made its seventh acquisition in 18 months, acquiring text analytics vendor, NewBrand. This followed the purchase of Brazilian social management vendor, Scup, in May.

Sprinklr was valued at $1bn in March after raising an addition $46m in funding.


Valuation: $1bn

Total funding: $229.9m, last round September 2014

Established: 2008

Based: Canada

Competitors: Sprinklr, Sprout Social, Salesforce Social Studio, AgoraPulse

Similarly to Sprinklr, HootSuite provides a social media management system. Core features include the ability to monitor social media interaction across various networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as custom analytics and data dashboard, giving multiple users the ability to collaborate on updating a company's social profile or schedule campaigns around messages.

In March, Hootsuite partnered with Stackla to allow its users to access Stackla’s content management tools within its platform.

Check out our interview with Hootsuite’s marketing leader here


Valuation: US$1bn

Total funding: $220m, last round May 2015

Established: 2004

Based: China

Panshi is an online and mobile advertising services vendors focused on China’s small and medium enterprises sector. Services include search engines, cloud-based network marketing portals and network marketing. At the higher end of town, the company is also offering Internet activity promotions, PR, media buying, market research and monitoring.

The group completed a US$200m round of series B funding in May, an investment injection that pushed its valuation to $1bn.

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