Gil Beyda of Genacast On Invite Media Success, Stepping Up Investment In Start-ups This Year

Genacast VenturesGil Beyda leads early-stage investment group Genacast Ventures, a part of Comcast Interactive Capital. Genacast Ventures invested in demand-side platform Invite Media prior to being acquired by Google as announced earlier this month.

Beyda spoke to about the deal as well as momentum in the space. Were you surprised that Invite Media sold so quickly? -and to Google?

GB: I wasn’t surprised that others saw and appreciated the value that the Invite Media team was creating. I was, however, surprised that it happened so quickly. We invested in Invite Media in May of 2008 and from the beginning we were not building to exit. We saw a market opportunity and set our sights on building a solution to fill that need. The rest, we figured, would take care of itself.

We are happy it was Google. We have a lot of respect for what they have built and felt it was a good home for the technology, a good fit for the team and a good cultural fit. The response from employees, partners and customers has been very positive.

How did your investment help lead to Google’s acquisition of Invite Media?

Remember, when Invite started nearly all traffic was going through a single ad exchange. Also, few agencies knew how to maximize the opportunity presented by exchanges. We believed from the beginning these would change but needed time. Invite Media was a very capital efficient business. That efficiency enabled us to continue to build product and wait for the market to develop.

Where does this rank in terms of Genacast investments to-date?

Invite Media was a great investment for Genacast for many reasons. Of course, it was a success financially. Invite Media was our first investment back in 2008 and now our first exit. But even more so, it helps to validate our model of entrepreneurs funding entrepreneurs.

Hopefully we were able to contribute to their success in more meaningful ways than just cash. Finally, it was very rewarding working with Nat, Zach and the rest of the Invite Media team. Their passion was infectious.

But we’re not done yet. We are very excited with our other portfolio companies (Demdex, DoubleVerify and Packlate) and expect great things from them as well. Also, we’re looking to step-up the pace and invest in 4-5 new start-ups this year.

Looking back at Genacast’s investment in Invite Media, anything you’d do differently?

While at times it was a nail-bitter, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a wild and exciting ride. Being new to the venture business my first investment was a learning experience but I couldn’t have done it without the support and mentoring of Chris Fralic of First Round Capital and David Horowitz of Comcast Interactive Capital. I am very grateful for their guidance.

Do you think there is still interest in demand-side platforms and/or ad networks by potential acquirers?

The industry that Invite Media helped pioneer is still young and there is still a lot of innovation and potential to be realized. Also, there are a lot of smart entrepreneurs out there building very valuable companies. I expect we’ll see more activity in the space.

By John Ebbert

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