Iponweb’s Boris Mouzykantskii Offers History Lesson; Wal-Mart Plans More Acquisitions

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Dr. Boris

Ad tech “godfather” Boris Mouzykantskii recounts the early days of Iponweb in a conversation with Gartner Research VP Martin Kihn. He describes the work he did for Brian O’Kelley, who was then pulling all-nighters writing code that would become Right Media. Later he became the go-to source for “work for hire” ad tech coding. “Right Media was a great business development tool,” Dr. Boris remembers. “We got a lot of gigs out of people who left and started other companies. … Yahoo at the time wasn’t very good at retaining talent, either on the tech or the business side. This was the moment that RTB was exploding. … [Recently] I looked through a list of all the companies that had given us at least $1 and it was 150 ad tech companies.” More.

Stored Up

Last year when Walmart signaled ecommerce M&A plans, it followed through with a multibillion-dollar string of acquisitions including Jet.com, Bonobos, MooseJaw and ModCloth. So people are taking notice now after Marc Lore, former Jet.com chief and current Walmart ecommerce CEO, declared at a Wall Street Journal tech event that the company will extend that acquisition spree. The idea of Walmart acquiring an ad tech company, and not just pure ecommerce markets as it has done so far, is a particularly interesting prospect. It works with programmatic startups like AppNexus, Kargo and Criteo to buy and sell consumer data-rich media.  

Playing Politics

Conservative nonprofit Secure America Now paid millions to Google and Facebook to target politically charged ads linking Democratic senators with Syrian terrorists. Ads were targeted to swing state groups like “Hispanic voters in Nevada,” likely to respond to an anti-refugee message. Google worked closely with the group to develop the targeting parameters. Facebook even used one of the ads, called “Are We Safe?,” to test a vertical video product with its audience. “It’s a tricky issue,” says Wendy Moe, a professor at the University of Maryland. “It’s hard for them to say we’ll help these groups, but not others.” More. Related: Fast Company reports on political ad legislation aimed at Facebook. Read that.

Snap Judgment

Financial services firm BTIG initially pegged Snap stock at $22.35, but with shares hovering between $13 and $16 over the past quarter, BTIG came out and apologized for misjudging Snapchat’s revenue growth. Snap’s story isn’t all negative. Its daily active users beat expectations, and time spent per user per day – an unwieldy but potent metric – is up 26% in the past year. But average revenue growth per user (ARPU) grew just 8.8%, compared to BTIG’s 28% ARPU forecast. Snapchat’s strong user metrics suggest it could be a durable competitor to Google and Facebook. Even so, BTIG’s Richard Greenfield concedes that “given the magnitude of the shortfall so far this year, we believe it is clear that we do not yet have a firm grasp on modeling that growth.” More (email sign-up required).

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