In January 2007 – Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg met in their freshman year and started a company called ‘Eatnow.com’, which was later acquired. The two met Scott Becker and Michael Provenzano at an entrepreneur group at UPenn. After this the group just started coding. Their first idea for ‘InviteMedia’ was a ‘Video AdNetwork’ after meeting with YouTube cofounders – Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. At this time YouTube had no advertising. They got the idea after hearing about a company called VideoEgg (now SAY media) – who had millions of video inventory. The name ‘Invite’ came from an idea regarding invites on top of video ads that invited you to do something or perform some action. The model kind of morphed around April (07) over the next year or so from FB apps, ad exchanges to an agency focused model.
Their first hires were 15 engineers in their office in Northern Liberties Philadelphia.
Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital) and Brian O’Kelley (now AppNexus, prior RMX / Yhoo) were key mentors for InviteMedia during their growth phase. Nat had previously interned at First Round Capital. In July/August of 2007 – they took funding from First Round Capital. Josh also kept Nat and Zach in college during a time when they probably wanted to leave and focus on Invite.
First round funding was $250,000 from First Round Capital and $1 million from Comcast’s (CMCSA) venture arm. After this first round Invite Media opened it’s first office in New York.
The first platform product was launched in January 2009 and it broke a lot. For the next 3 months a lot of customers were refunded. After this they scraped their way to some early clients. Nat and Zach started selling and secured a really big deal in July/August 2009.
That summer was a crazy time – they turned down an offer for $20 million to be acquired. Later that summer – Invite secured it’s first big deal was with Publicis.
In October they made approximately $3 million in revenue and later revenue went up to approximately $6 million a month and then up-to around $15 million a month.
In Dec 09 – A guy from Google cold called Nat/Zach to hear more about them. A number of other DSPs also came into Google to pitch and showed them their product. I think they were literally shaking hands with competitors in the corridor. There were meetings between Invite and Google about a possible acquisition. It took Nat and Zach about 3-6 months to make a decision and got a lot of advice from Josh and possibly Brian along the way. At the board level it wasn’t necessarily a surprise as it had been discussed a lot and everyone else was probably un-aware.
60 days after signing the term sheet with Google – Invite were acquired by Google.
Here are some other interesting facts:
- On June 02 2010 – Invite Media (4 co-founders and 45 employees) were acquired by Google.
- Today – Nat, Zach and Scott – work at Google and Michael Provenzano works at Turans.
- Invite Media’s first office was in Northern Liberties Philadelphia.