AdTech: $720m Valuation, The 50+ Year Unicorn Processing $160 Billion in Spend

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Bill Wise is the founding CEO of Mediaocean, the largest and oldest ad tech company founded in 1967.

Bill has spent over a decade unleashing the potential of revolutionary advertising technologies, overseeing more than $5 billion in mergers, acquisitions, and public offerings, including the $720 million sale of Mediaocean to Vista Equity Partners in August 2015. He comes to Mediaocean from his role as CEO of advertising software provider MediaBank, one of Mediaocean’s two founding companies along with Donovan Data Systems (DDS).

Growth:

Founded in 1967, competed hard with DDS until merger in 2012.

In 2016 $141 billion went through MediaOcean platform.

In 2017 $146 billion through the platform.

They sell to suppliers like Pandora, TV agencies, Agencies, Publishers, and all the mediairies. Sales cycles take 1 year and implementation takes another 2. In August 2017 at 1000 employees across 90 countries.

Would you sell MediaOcean for $5b to Salesforce?

Bill: Tomorrow. yes. (Minute 25:35)

How do you make money?

Bill: We charge a fraction of 1% on spend. Would be very hard for others to compete with us unless they were doing $50-60m in spend through their platform.

What is the ad tech tax?

Bill: For programmatic dollars spent, if advertiser wants to put $100 through platform, $75 is going to platform instead of the actual spend. Not efficient.

Why did you do deal with Vista at $720m valuation?

Bill: I did merger with other company with DDS in 2012. I was running MediaBank where we had raised $50m and had lots of bad blood between us because we were fiercely competitive. DDS contributed 102% of assets to merger deal so they got more than 50% but DDS was 5x bigger than Media Bank.

After battling government analyzing deal. After this, we invested almost $100m to upgrade the business. Once this was established, we felt assets were ripe for consolidation. Vista had been calling me for years, I never called them back.

When I met the founder, Brian, there was a bit of a man crush. We didn’t need capital because we were profitable. I wanted to get more aggressive though and I liked Vista’s playbook.

Valuation:

Was based off EBITDA multiple. I let early shareholders from MediaBank negotiate valuation with Vista so I could keep strong working relationship with Vista so when deal was done there was only positive energy.

Whats the weirdest thing you’ve done to acquire a customer?

When trying to win IPG we were competing with DDS, this was pre-merger, we had to show IPG that we were young and new and fresh to win the deal.

Bill told his team they had new company dress code: Jeans and t-shirts. This would help them be seen as the new disruptors. Perception becomes reality.

CAC: 1.5 year sale cycle, 2 year implementation cycle.

Does a blockchain based ad tech platform solve “Ad Tax” issue? 

Bill: Blockchain can’t handle level of scale, programmatic real time bidding for example, that ad tech platforms require.

Now when you think about fraud, ad tech tax, approved vendors, thats something blockchain can solve for. MediaOcean is actively looking into this space.