AdRoll: We’re Coming Back for More

Posted by Charles Moldow

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As my seven-year-old likes to remind me, “You can never get too much of a good thing.” He generally applies this sentiment to cookies and ice cream. We apply it to our portfolio companies.

This motivated us to lead the latest round of funding at LendingClub at $1.55 billion – even though we were already investors dating back to a round at less than $100 million. It has also driven us to lead the latest round of funding for performance marketing leader AdRoll, even though we had already led the company’s Series B round in 2012 – and that is the investment I want to focus on here.

My early interactions with AdRoll’s founder, Jared Kopf, and its CEO, Aaron Bell, were innocent enough. I served as nothing more than a sounding board and advisor to their small yet growing business. As they sought to map its future, one core question remained: should AdRoll continue in its bootstrapping ways, or step on the pedal and accelerate?

AdRoll devoted careful thought to how expansion might affect the tight-knit team that had achieved so much up to that point. They identified the majority of the key risk factors, including the potential introduction of a new venture investor to the board and the expectations that might come along with the capital. Over a period of nine months, we met repeatedly to evaluate options and came to the conclusion that our shared vision and cultural fit were a promising match. Foundation couldn’t have been more pleased when AdRoll requested that we lead their acceleration round in April of 2012.

To suggest that we’ve been impressed with the AdRoll team and opportunity since that time would massively understate how we feel about this fast-growing company. For many, it would be enough to have identified a new market in the online ad space – retargeting the 98 percent of first-time visitors who would otherwise leave and not come back. Not only did AdRoll go on to build a leading company in the space, they didn’t stop there. They have a grand vision, and they will continue to push relentlessly to build solutions leveraging big data, mobile distribution, additional media channels, predictive analytics and CRM repositories to create the most effective and cost efficient form of marketing for businesses of all sizes since the advent of search marketing.

To achieve that goal takes a unique blend of moxie, vision, tech prowess, and conviction. This team has all of these things in spades – which explains many of their notable accomplishments:

* 15,000 active advertisers from over 100 countries
* Surpassed a $150 million run rate
* Part of the initial alphas for both Facebook Exchange and Twitter tailored audiences
* Rapid employee growth & recognition of #1 place to work in SF
* Aggressive international expansion with offices in Dublin, Ireland and Sydney, Australia
* Monthly revenue growth of 700 percent since our initial investment

AdRoll’s success certainly makes Foundation’s decision to invest look prescient. In fact, we had a bit of unfair advantage thanks to our deep understanding of the critical products and services necessary for success by today’s business owners and marketing practitioners. Our investments and eventual exits of Responsys (Oracle), Tealeaf (IBM), Aggregate Knowledge (Neustar), and Freewheel (Comcast) – as well as the upcoming IPO of Tubemogul have taught us invaluable lessons about maximizing the value of high-velocity sales, ROI-driven solutions, large global markets, and enduring business models.

We are thrilled to lead this most recent round at AdRoll, which promises to shape up as yet another wildly successful marketing technologies investment by Foundation Capital. We have full confidence that Aaron Bell and his management team will steward yet another period of exponential growth as they shake up the online marketing technologies space yet again.