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Ad Tech in the Hot Seat

Last week at the IAB Annual Leadership Conference, I had the pleasure of sitting on “For the Good of the Ecosystem: Ad Tech in the Hot Seat” panel with fellow Founders and CEO’s of ad tech companies. Doug Weaver led a very productive and informative discussion around the value each of our companies bring to the ecosystem. In addition, he called on folks in the audience to ask questions. Tolman Geffs, Co-President of investment banking firm Jordan, Edmiston Group (JEGI) challenged the panel “When will you guys make money?” I answered noting that the Rubicon Project is profitable.

Tolman followed up his question with this opinion piece in AdExchanger, suggesting that the entire bidded display ecosystem has reached decent scale but doesn’t believe it’s making money.

While I can understand and appreciate the point that is being made here, I feel it’s unfair to lump our “profits” in with a group of other companies (all which are very different than our business) that are at different stages of growth and make such a broad general statement.

I’m proud to say that our team has worked hard to prove our model and take the company to profitability, particularly with the rate of growth that we have sustained along the way and the risks that we have taken to achieve such growth.

We were profitable before we acquired FAN over a year ago.  We doubled the size of the company with the acquisition by bringing on 100 people in tech development (no sales/revenue from the acquisition), quadrupled our revenue run rate, invested tens of millions of dollars into a massive real time trading infrastructure, and brought all 5 countries that we operate in back to profitability in just one year’s time.  I might add, this was the third acquisition that we have done in the almost 5 years since we started the Rubicon Project.

From the start, we have taken a long-term view on the market opportunity, always trying to do what’s best for long term growth of the market.  Having said that, we take a short-term view on the fiscal management of the company.  We have never had a down quarter and have a very strong balance sheet that’s growing.

I have taken this approach with all five of the companies that I started prior to the Rubicon Project and it’s resulted in over $1 billion in combined market value, 2 acquisitions and 1 IPO — I’m happy to say I’ve never lost money for an investor.

I’m from the midwest (Chicago).  I didn’t grow up in the land of venture capital.  I was trained from an early age to build businesses on profitable business models.  It’s the only way I know how to do it.  Call me old fashioned…