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Mobile Startups Are Still Attracting The VCs

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mobiletechinvestmentIn the words of Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans, “Mobile is eating the world.”

While the investor community grows dubious about the viability of ad tech, mobile startups still seem to be able to bring in the cash.

Two such companies, app data and analytics firm PushSpring and deep-linking outfit Yozio, both announced Series A funding rounds on Tuesday.

Seattle-based PushSpring, which company co-founder Tyler Davidson describes as a data-management platform (DMP) for apps, raised $5 million led by Trilogy Equity Partners, bringing its total investment to $6.5 million.

Yozio, an Oakland, Calif.-based company that helps app developers focus on the unpaid side of the growth-hacking equation, fetched $7 million in a round led by Foundation Capital, with participation from Illuminate Ventures, Wenn Investment Network and AME Cloud Ventures, bringing its overall funding to $8.6 million.

“Mobile is still in its very early infancy stage, even though there are lots of platforms moving in,” said Lei Sun, CEO and co-founder of Yozio. “The main force of mobile hasn’t yet arrived.”

Although some investors have snapped their wallets shut when it comes to ad tech – Brian Andersen, a partner at investment bank LUMA Partners, referred to ad tech as an “overinvested” category that hasn’t always lived up to its promise in the form of returns – the mobile ad tech landscape appears to be a different story.

“Some hot categories out there are of interest, including things like programmatic video or programmatic mobile or native advertising, where it’s still a little early and there aren’t any clear winners yet,” Andersen said. “There are definitely still areas where opportunities exist for investors.”

Take Eniac Ventures, for example. The investment firm, helmed by founding general partner and former LocalResponse (now Qualia Media) CEO Nihal Mehta, raised $55 million in January that it plans to disburse among 35 early-stage mobile startups focused on connected devices, app development, personal utility, messaging, enterprise and commerce.

“Investors are starting to learn how to distinguish the different players in ad tech, such as who has differentiated technology and what are the macro trends that will determine the winners and the losers,” said Adam Berke, president and CMO of AdRoll. “Investors are getting more savvy, which is a long-term benefit for the industry.”

PushSpring, which creates persona profiles by connecting app-related data to advertising identifiers that it distributes to advertisers and publishers through integrations with DMPs and DSPs like The Trade Desk, Lotame, Oracle Data Cloud, DoubleClick Bid Manager and others, is looking to spend a good portion of its funding on hiring data science and engineering talent to beef up its platforms and partnerships.

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Davidson is hoping to increase the headcount at PushSpring from 13 to roughly 20 over the course of the next year.

Over at Yozio, Sun and his team of roughly 12 have plans to pump its fresh capital back into its tech platform, with a focus on measurement. Yozio is also looking to expand its engineering, sales, marketing and business development capabilities by swelling the employee count to around 30 within the next 12 to 24 months.

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