Inside One Of New York’s Greatest Startup Success Stories, AppNexus

Brian O'Kelley Appnexus
Brian O’Kelley cofounded AppNexus in 2007.

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?

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title=”AppNexus is located on 23rd between 5th and 6th. It’s neighbours with Home Depot.”
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title=”AppNexus has the entire floor to itself, and it needs every inch of the space.”
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title=”Creative Auditor Evan Zelnick and Assistant Office Manager Cadi Thomas greet us at reception.”
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title=”We interrupt the middle of Razzle Dazzle, a weekly company get-together where employees present recent projects. Eric Berry, Solutions Engineer takes the stage.”
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title=”Unfortunately Eric puts one AppNexus employee to sleep.”
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title=”The AppNexus floor is huge, but we’re told the company has already outgrown it and is hunting for a new space.”
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title=”Despite the crowded office, there are a lot of places for AppNexus employees to meet comfortably.”
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title=”Implementation Consultants Scott Menzer and Andy Lenehan are tucked away discussing the AppNexus platform.”
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title=”There’s room for all of these employees to gather on kitchen bar stools. They’re enjoying all of the free post-Razzle Dazzle snacks AppNexus provides”
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title=”The kitchen also has a robust coffee station. Along with an espresso machine, AppNexus has flavored syrups for coffee.”
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title=”The kitchen tables keep in line with the orange theme of the office. As a Syracuse alum, we feel right at home.”
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title=”So are the bathrooms, which look like they were taken out of a sports arena.”
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title=”Conference rooms are all named after different members of the 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Dream Team. This one here is Barkley.”
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title=”AppNexus has a few quotes written on the walls. This one was written by one of the employees who wrote a top hit rap song in Japan.”
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title=”In fact, that’s the lyricist, engineering manager Theresa Vu. She’s sitting with product architect Mike True”
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title=”The office is full of quirky things like this balloon, which was hovering around the centre of the office. It is one of several unofficial AppNexus mascots, “Finding Nemeth,” named after Lauren Nemeth, VP of Sales.”
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title=”Nemeth also has a Quota Fish hanging near her desk. It used to be a whale, but that was stolen and replaced by a much less fun backpack”
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title=”Senior Software Engineer Chris Utz works in the shadow of The AppNexus Can Tower – Engineer Sam Mati’s personal take on recycling. Those are seltzer — not beer — cans”
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title=”Another odd office trinket is this gourd on AppNexus SVP of Product Ari Paparo’s desk. Ari’s personal mission is to clear up any confusion about the differences between pumpkins and gourds.”
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title=”Despite all the quirky things in the office, AppNexus gets a lot of work done. Everyone is back at their desks after Razzle Dazzle.”
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title=”The product management team is all hard at work.”
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title=”VP of Global Services Brandon Atkinson is drawing out a masterful plan for AppNexus”
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title=”The HR team is using this monitor to track who’s coming in for an interview next and at what time.”
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title=”The tech team is buried in post-it notes that outline upcoming releases and features that need to be built”
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title=”We caught cofounder/CEO Brian O’Kelley by the post-it notes on our way out.”
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title=”After a full tour and a cupcake, president Michael Rubenstein bid us farewell”
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permalink=”what-is-it-like-to-work-at-other-huge-startups-check-out-38″
title=”What is it like to work at other huge startups? Check out:”
content=”Inside NYC’s Next Billion-Dollar Startup, ZocDoc >>
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