Last week we went to visit one of the biggest startups in New York, AppNexus. AppNexus was founded in 2007 by Brian O’Kelley and Mike Nolet.Both were early members of ad exchange Right Media, which sold to Yahoo at an $850 million valuation in 2007.
After Right Media sold, the two began plotting what the next big ad exchange would look like.
“We had a huge head start about what to do next,” O’Kelley tells us. “We felt like we had seen a lot of successes at Right Media and some failures. We felt like we were the only folks who had seen it all, and we figured we’d build a second generation ad exchange.”
There are a lot of successful ad networks now, but O’Kelley says AppNexus has a different DNA. “No one had the kind of institutional insight we had when we started AppNexus, and the company we’ve built reflects that. AppNexus has a predictive, real-time DNA.”
AppNexus has been doing really well. It’s raised ~$65 million to date at an estimated ~ $200 million valuation. O’Kelley wouldn’t tell us specifics about AppNexus’ future plans, but he told us not to rule anything out. He hinted that the company could be open to an acquisition or it could go public.
Whatever the outcome, AppNexus is staying focused on growing the business. “European expansion is really interesting,” says O’Kelley. “We have an extraordinary number of clients saying, ‘Get over here!'” It is also launching a new product at its conference next week that O’Kelley believes will be a game changer. O’Kelley also says, “We may or may not be announcing a big mobile partnership in 2012.”
So what’s it like to work at a company that’s going gangbusters?