Drawbridge Picks Up $25 Million In Fresh Funding, Sets Sights On Partnerships And Global Expansion

DrawbridgefundingThe money keeps flowing to cross-device, and Drawbridge is the latest beneficiary, picking up $25 million in Series C on Thursday, led by Sequoia Capital.

The new round brings Drawbridge’s total funding to $45.5 million since it was founded in 2010.

The company will use a portion of its Series C to pursue more licensing partnerships like the one it struck in January with Miaozhen Systems, China’s homegrown answer to Oracle. Drawbridge is also looking to double down on SaaS and expand its platform business. Lyft and M&C Saatchi recently started using Drawbridge on a self-serve basis.

In addition to new market expansion, especially in Asia, Drawbridge will earmark some of its funds to increase the company’s current headcount from 120 to about 180 or 190 by the end of the year with new hires mostly in product, engineering and strategy. According to a company spokesperson, the focus at the moment is more on growth than profitability.

There’s been a lot of activity happening around technologies that enable cross-device matching. This year alone, Oracle shelled out around $50 million for Crosswise in April, and Tapad, Drawbridge’s main competitor, got unexpectedly snapped up by Norwegian telco Telenor in February.

“M&A was bound to happen and my prediction is that there’s more to come,” said Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO and founder of Drawbridge, one of a dwindling number of independent cross-device vendors.

And for the moment, that’s how Drawbridge intends to remain.

“This is a walled-garden ecosystem in crying need of independent solutions,” Sivaramakrishnan said.

But it’s also an ecosystem full of potential acquirers. One wonders how long the cross-device indies are going to hold out before those acquirers come a-knocking.

“Once Tapad was acquired, it was just a matter of time before we saw more M&A activity,” Forrester VP and principal analyst Melissa Parrish told AdExchanger after Crosswise was scooped up by Oracle last month. “Going forward, the most interesting thing to me will be who the acquirers are and what industries they’re in. Telecom? Big tech? Major publishers? Practically anybody could benefit.”

The buyers are readying their checkbooks, but are marketers up to speed?

Sivaramakrishnan has noticed an elevation in the type of conversation she’s had with clients.

“There will always be a bell curve around customer knowledge and some will need education,” said Sivaramakrishnan. “But we’re finding that we’ve crossed the chasm of skepticism, and rather than asking questions like ‘What is probabilistic?’ or ‘What is deterministic?’ or lamenting the pervasive power of Facebook and Google, clients generally accept that there’s a need for consumer identity capabilities.”

But in Mitchell Reichgut’s experience as CEO of mobile and video ad platform Jun Group, most marketers are still at the bottom left of that bell curve.

“Ask a brand how they’re using persistent IDs and they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about,” Reichgut said. “Those of us in the industry sometimes overestimate the extent to which brand clients follow this. The online advertising conversation has matured significantly, but the mobile conversation is in its early innings.”

Be that as it may, Drawbridge has plans for its platform beyond straight-up advertising.

“The ad tech ecosystem is a firehose of data – there are multiple tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of transactions a day – and if that data is leveraged and synthesized correctly, you can build valuable assets around advertising,” said Sivaramakrishnan. “But the future will be about leveraging that data to power the broader economy. Mar tech, customer experience, site optimization, fighting fraud – ad tech is not the only application of an identity capability.”

Drawbridge is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in London and New York and regional sales outposts in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit. Its last funding round was a $14 million Series B in 2013 led by Northgate Capital.

 

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