Many people in the West will their heads in bewilderment at the news that Google may be about to pay $US1 billion for India’s InMobi.
They have never heard of InMobi.
That’s a shame, because it is probably the single biggest mobile ad network company on the planet.
If Google bought it, it would solidify the search giant’s domination of mobile advertising in an almost unassailable way. It would make Google No.1 for mobile ad revenues for years to come. Google’s mobile ad business is already twice as big as its nearest competitor, Facebook, for instance.
It would probably attract the attention of regulators — and the complaints of Google’s competitors — because Google’s massive market share for mobile ads would be so overwhelming. Google already has 90% market share for search in some areas such as Europe. It is already the biggest mobile ad company on the planet, with revenues in the billions (the company doesn’t break out its mobile sales numbers).
InMobi, under CEO Naveen Tevari, has taken $US220.6 million in funding and has about 900 employees around the globe.
Tevari told Business Insider in 2012 that his company serves a staggering 93.4 billion impressions monthly, across the planet. That probably makes InMobi an even bigger player in mobile app advertising than Google’s AdMob network is. Google bought AdMob for $US750 million — so you can see that on a valuation basis InMobi is a step above even that.
For a long time, InMobi was regarded as too big to acquire. We thought it would eventually stage some sort of IPO. Indeed, Tevari previously told Business Insider, “We think this could be a standalone company.” Growth has been “so fast and so large, we’re one of only a handful of players that exists in this space.”
InMobi was founded in 2007 at the dawn of the smartphone advertising age.
One of its key early employees is Anne Frisbie, now InMobi’s VP & General Manager, Global Alliances. The formerGoldman Sachs analyst’s career reads like a history of the internet. Now based in San Francisco, she has worked at Zip2 (Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s early “city guide” website company that was sold to Compaq for $USabout $US350 million), AltaVista (an old search engine that lost the search race to Google), Overture (also named GoTo, an early search ad company acquired by Yahoo for $US1.6 billion), and of course Yahoo.
Frisbie is based in San Francisco, and knows everyone in the mobile/adtech space. So it is likely that a Google buyout may have her fingerprints on it.
InMobi’s investment backing — five rounds from just four investors dominated by Kleiner Perkins and Softbank — has enabled it to grow bigger than its competitors, such as Twitter’s MoPub, Millennial Media, and Apple’s iAd.
Business Insider previously ranked InMobi as the No.2 pre-IPO adtech company on the planet, behind only Pinterest. That ranking includes all adtech companies, not just mobile ones: