Ad-tech firm AppNexus files for IPO on a $1.5B-$2B valuation

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Advertising technology startup AppNexus Inc. has confidentially filed paperwork for an initial public offering according to reports Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal claims that the company is seeking the go public on a valuation between $1.5 billion and $2 billion though notes that pricing talk “is still fluid.” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. will serve as the lead underwriters on the offering, the report added.

Founded in 2007, AppNexus claims to be the largest independent advertising technology services provider on the planet and offers a range of trading solutions along with an advertising marketplace that provides an open, unified and powerful programmatic platform that allows customers to effectively buy and sell media.

The company harnesses Big Data and machine learning to power its digital audience platforms, delivering real-time decisioning to enable their clients to acquire, engage and monetize their audiences.

AppNexus is said to have restructured their business in October including 150 layoffs, with The Drum observing that the move had further fueled speculation that the ad-tech outfit was positioning itself to IPO “with observers noting the the reduction in its overhead would make it more attractive to investors.”

The decision by AppNexus to go public is another sign of emerging confidence that equity markets are interested in investing once again in tech startups. It’s also a coming-of-age for ad tech companies that came about in the mid to late 2000s.

“The cycle of independent ad tech companies is playing out. You had all these companies funded in 2007/08, and some of them emerged as strong companies, but lots are not working very well,” AppNexus President Michael Rubenstein told The Drum. “The latter can’t survive independently, and so I’ve got the feeling that a lot of those companies will have to find ways to survive or they’ll go out of business.”

AppNexus’ public offering follows in the footsteps of rival ad tech firm The Trade Desk’s IPO in September. Shares rose 67 percent on their first day of trading to close at $30.10. While The Trade Desk didn’t maintain that initial closing price, it closed trading Wednesday at $26.58 a share, still well up on its original asking price of $18.

Coming into its IPO, AppNexus has raised $319 million over nine rounds from investors including Coriolis Ventures, EquityZen, First Round, Grape Arbor VC, Khosla Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, News Corp., SV Angel, Tribeca Venture Partners, Venrock and a number of individual investors.

Image credit: AppNexus