Altitude Digital Sits Pretty With $30 Million In Fresh Funding, Mulls Exit

AltitudeDigitalThe ad tech funding scene is getting a little unfriendly – but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for the video guys.

On Thursday, Altitude Digital announced a $30 million cash injection from financial tech firm FastPay, bringing the video SSP’s total funding to $45 million.

The Denver-based company has direct relationships with 500 publishers, including Ziff Davis, USA Today, Zynga, Tribune Media, Gannett and Defy Media, which owns Gen Y-related O&O properties like, Screen Junkies and the Gloss.

A good chunk of the money will go toward financing Altitude Digital’s shift into the newest new hotness – mobile video. According to ZenithOptimedia’s most recent global ad expenditure forecast, video ad spend is set to continue its explosive growth trajectory, hitting $23.3 billion by 2017, and research from Ooyala found that 34% of all online video plays took place on a mobile device in the last quarter of 2014, a 17% YoY increase.

“Video is hot, and mobile dollars are moving to video,” Altitude Digital CEO and founder Jeremy Ostermiller told AdExchanger. “In the last two and a half years, we’ve positioned ourselves as a video SSP. We’re still going to hold onto our roots there, but we’re pivoting to become a mobile video SSP.”

And that’s going to take a hefty investment in mobile programmatic tech across in-app and mobile web. The company, which has a roughly $100 million run rate for 2015 and a headcount of somewhere north of 100, is planning to grow its technology team by 100% this year, Ostermiller said.

Some of the money will also be allocated to beefing up Altitude’s data infrastructure, with new datacenters in key markets abroad. More traditional international expansion is also on the docket.

“We’re going to get really aggressive in Europe in 2015 and into 2016,” Ostermiller said, pointing to Italy, Germany and Spain as potential locations for new offices. In addition to its home base in Denver, Altitude already operates offices in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

The nature of Altitude’s designs on Europe are still in the air. In terms of staffing, it’s a toss-up between build and buy, Ostermiller said.

“If we were to build, we would open a European headquarters in London or Amsterdam, but at the same time, we’re looking at a couple of different acquisitions that would get us to market quicker,” he said. “Overseas in particular, we’re looking for companies with established sales teams that have programmatic experience in video and mobile.”

For the moment, Altitude Digital remains independent, although for how long remains to be seen. Although Ostermiller touted this independence – “Most SSPs out there are advertising companies because they were bought by advertising conglomerates, but we’re independent, and we consider ourselves to be a partner to publishers,” he said – an exit, IPO or otherwise, appears to be in the cards.

“Last year, we had over 10 offers to sell the company, and we decided to stay independent and continue growing,” Ostermiller said. “But our future plans are to either go public or to sell to a strategic partner.”

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