Centro Raises US$30 Million Series B Funding Round, Looks into Global Expansion

What: Chicago-based Centro, an Advertising-technology company and media management software seller, has raised US$30 million in Series B funding from Wall Street firm Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds, making this the company's second round of venture funding and the second-largest venture investment in a Chicago company this year.
Why it matters: The transaction proves that Ad-Tech is still hot. The move gives Centro the possibility to expand globally as well as  positioning itself as a potential IPO candidate. Investment will serve to continue the company’s push towards becoming a centralized ad tech platform that can combine the more operational business automation with the programmatic RTB exchanges.

uW7rEHJJ_400x400Chicago-based Centro, an Advertising-technology company and media management software seller, has raised US$30 million in Series B funding from Wall Street firm Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds.The round also included previous investor FTV Capital, a San Francisco investment fund. This was Centro’s  second round of venture funding and the second-largest venture investment in a Chicago company this year, beaten only by the US$56 million NEA invested in Raise.com.

proxyAccording to Centro CEO Shawn Riegsecker, the investment will serve to continue the company’s push towards becoming a centralized ad tech platform that can combine the more operational business automation with the programmatic RTB exchanges. For that purpose, the cash will be invested in new technology and acquisitions, such as its 2013 purchase of SiteScout, a software platform for real-time bidding on digital advertising. Riegsecker plans include “an aggressive expansion of our engineering and product team for the platform.”

the investment will serve to continue the company’s push towards becoming a centralized ad tech platform

Riegsecker emphasized that the new funding will lead to Centro’s next acquisitions, citing attribution analytics, cross-device targeting and an expected move into programmatic TV in 2016 as areas where the company is actively eyeing potential targets.

The move gives Centro, which currently operates in North America, the chance to expand internationally. “We’ve maintained rapid growth in the US and not focused on having offices in UK or Brazil, but at some point we need to take the product global,”

With 2,500 customers ,the company also has plans to double its business, based on gross volume of advertising handled, to about US$400 million this year. Headcount, which is about 600, will most probably reach 750 by year-end. In this way, Centro is gradually positioning itself as a potential IPO candidate. This Series B makes that possibility even more likely : Riegsecker says Centro still is looking a potential public offering. "We continually look to what's going on in the public markets. But the last 12 to 18 month got pretty choppy for ad-tech companies," he said, noting recent struggles of Rocket Fuel, which announced big layoffs last month after its stock plunged by 75 percent. "Our decision was to raise a Series B."

Shawn Riegsecker: We’ve maintained rapid growth in the US and not focused on having offices in UK or Brazil, but at some point we need to take the product global

Centro, which initially focused on automating the guaranteed aspects of digital advertising, was founded in 2001. Though previously many observers expected Centro to move towards acquiring a DMP to fill that role, Riegsecker said that he’d rather empower clients to utilize their own data, as opposed to acquiring or building that technology themselves.

“As afar as a DMP goes, strategically, I fully buy into the idea of BYOD (bring your own data).There are a lot of DMPs that have raised tens or hundreds of millions to build out sophisticated technology. We have some DMP capabilities … but we want to be the best DMP integration platform.” he said. “We believe the race is on to become the software provider of a single sign-on platform that automates 100% of your digital spending,” he added.

This investment marks the first direct stake for Neuberger Berman in an advertising technology company.Funds such as Neuberger, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity all have been making later-stage investments in promising tech companies. Just like FTV invested US$22.5 million in Centro in 2011.

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Celeste Martorana @celesmartorana

Celeste joined Portada’s team in 2013. Since then, she has been working as an editor for Portada’s English-language website and compiling information for Portada’s Databases.

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