Millennial Claims $16 Million In New Money

November 17, 2009|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Millennial Media, one of the country's largest advertising networks for mobile devices, said Monday it raised $16 million in new funding that it will use to hire more staff and fuel its international expansion from its Baltimore headquarters.

The funding was part of a Series C round led by New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with an office in Baltimore. Existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital and Charles River Ventures also participated. Since its founding in 2006, Millennial has raised more than $40 million in venture capital funding, according to Paul Palmieri, its co-founder, president and chief executive.

The news came a week after Google Inc. offered to pay $750 million in stock to acquire Millennial's top competitor, AdMob Inc. For many in the industry, including Millennial, Google's acquisition of AdMob was a sign that the mobile advertising market, though still small compared to online advertising, was going to become a bigger force in the future.

Palmieri said the Google acquisition didn't have a bearing on the latest round of financing that Millennial attracted from investors because terms of the deal had been worked out weeks before. He wouldn't say whether his company had been in talks with Google before the AdMob acquisition.

"I think the Millennial story and the AdMob/Google story independently speak to the momentum of this space," Palmieri said of the mobile advertising sector. "I think we're a very good technology story in a region that's seen some technology successes, and would like to see more."

Mobile ad spending will reach $416 million in 2009, compared with the nearly $24 billion that will be spent overall for online advertising, according to eMarketer, a digital media research firm. But the mobile ad market is expected to more than triple to $1.5 billion in 2013, according to eMarketer.

Millennial started up three years ago in Phoenix, Md., the brainchild of Palmieri and Chris Brandenburg, the firm's chief technology officer. Later that year, they moved into Baltimore's Emerging Technology Center, with four or five employees. Since then, they've quickly grown to about 60 employees.

Though it is still in a startup phase and not yet profitable, Palmieri said the company's revenues this year were "multiples of last year." The company said that Nielsen Research has determined that it reaches 79 percent of the country's mobile Internet audience with the ads it serves.

Millennial plans to use the new funding to scale up its operations, expand its presence in London, hire for engineering and sales positions, and deploy new programs for its clients.

Palmieri said the company will be looking to hire 15 engineers "right away" in Baltimore, as well as more sales professionals who would likely be based in large markets, such as London and New York.

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