AppNexus SVP of product management Ari Paparo is out and two other senior executives appear close to leaving the NewYork-based ad-technology company.One is VP of sales Lauren Nemeth.
A source close to AppNexus tells us she plays a “huge role” at the company.
But we’ve learned that she is actively interviewing for a job at a competitor, and may follow Paparo out the door.
Separately, an AppNexus competitor tells us that it is interviewing one of AppNexus’s other senior sales VPs.
AppNexus is a “real-time bidding platform.” It’s a place where ad buyers, ad sellers, and lots of middlemen like data providers and ad networks meet and move massive amounts of money and ad inventory.
With one founder, Brian O’Kelley, who made his name as CTO of a startup that sold to Yahoo for hundreds of millions of dollars, and another, Michael Rubenstein, who built Google’s ad exchange, AppNexus was supposed to be “one of New York’s greatest startup success stories.”
Is it still?
An industry source and close observer of AppNexus tells us: “The executive turnover is worse than that—more on the way!”
“O’Kelley’s challenging management style coupled with four years of vesting and questionable strategic options are to blame. Apparently the churn of rank-and-file employees is brutal too.”
In addition to dealing with executive turnover, AppNexus has also had to deal with a less-than-ideal fundraising environment this year.
This summer, we reported that AppNexus was seeking to raise money at an $800 million valuation, but was having trouble finding takers.
Since, we’ve spoken to sources close to these talks and have learned more detail.
In the spring, AppNexus was approached by late stage investors seeking to put money into what is widely described as one of New York’s more successful ad-tech companies.
Sources close to AppNexus insist the company has plenty of cash, and only reluctantly agreed to enter into deal talks—thanks mostly to the promise of a rich valuation.
But after these late-stage investors called around the industry and took a closer look at AppNexus’s business, they came back with valuations much lower than they had originally suggested. AppNexus balked and talks ceased.
AppNexus has also had some uptime issues over the past year, competitors whisper and sources close to the company confirm.
Naturally, people close to the company are very bullish about its prospects.
One told us AppNexus has grown from 150 employees at the beginning of this year to 350. This source says revenues, which we estimate be ~$50 million, are up 3X year-over-year.
An AppNexus investor tells us: “I am confident they are one of the most important companies in ad tech and are likely to be one of the biggest tech companies built in NYC.”
Paparo told us he is also optimistic about AppNexus.
Paparo, who says he left the company because a recent re-org removed his role within it, told us over the phone: “The business is booming. There’s nothing wrong with the fundamentals.”
So why are people leaving?
“It’s not easy working at a very-fast-growth company,” he says. “When I started I was employee No. 70, it’s now No. 350.”
“I think they are going to be hugely successful.”
AppNexus president Michael Rubenstein declined to comment on this post.