Fresh Capital

Gigi Levy-Weiss and Israeli Angels Back Ad Platform Promodity


Last summer, Betabeat documented the rising number of startups–particularly in the ad-tech space–with their base Israel, but a growing presence in New York. Today, Promodity, an advertising platform in that same vein, announced a $1.5 million angel round from investors, including Gigi Levy-Weiss. Mr. Levy-Weiss is a member of the investment group TechAviv Angels, which includes the founders of New York standouts Outbrain and Vringo as well as a cofounder of, the facial recognition technology recently acquired by FacebookRead More

Tech Talent Crunch

Ad-Tech Feels the Talent Crunch In Silicon Alley

Competition for engineers and developers in NewYork is fierce, as it is in tech hubs around the country. It’s a well worn story that Silicon Alley competes with Wall Street for the best programmers. But there is another multi-billion dollar industry in the Big Apple hungry for those mathematical minds: advertising.

Over the last year, reports the New York Times, the number of want ads for highly technical positions has nearly doubled on the industry job board AdExchanger. The wave of big data is rich soil for advertising companies to mine, but it requires some serious quants to seperate the signal from the noise.

“The demand has far outstripped the supply,” said Joe Zawadzki, chief executive of MediaMath, told the NY Times. “The number of things that you need to know is high and the number of people that have grown up knowing it is low.” Read More

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OutBrain’s Yaron Galai: The World is Brainwashed by Relevancy

Yaron Galai - Image via Israeli Business Forum of NY

Israeli born ad-tech veteran Yaron Galai is currently at work on his fourth company, Outbrain, which serves up more than 3.5 billion pageviews a month to publishers like CNN, Fox and The Atlantic. “My two previous companies worked by interruption, which I hated. We were trying to get you to click away from a story on the kind of ad that personally, I ignore.”

Outbrain works to send “engaged” readers to publishers, meaning visitors they believe will actually enjoy the story they land on, then be likely to click through to other articles and visit the site again in the future. “The world is brainwashed by relevancy,” Mr. Galai said, chatting with Betabeat at our Midtown offices. “If you’re reading an article about Steve Jobs, and we send you to another article about Steve Jobs, or about the iPhone, yes that is “relevant”, but it’s probably not that interesting.” Read More


Will The Next DoubleClick Come From Wonky World of Ad Verification?

Mr. Netzer

Looking back through the all-too-brief annals of New York tech history, DoubleClick is arguably the city’s most successful exit. The company has always been less-famous for the unsexy business of what it does (dynamic ad serving) than for the fact that Google plunked down a jaw-dropping $3.1 billion for it in 2007. It was the spoils from Doubleclick that enabled Kevin Ryan to go on to launch Gilt Groupe, which begat GroupMe, and so on and so forth. Now, another New York City ad-tech startup is hoping to follow DoubleClick’s lead.

Yesterday DoubleVerify announced that it picked up $33 million from the likes of First Round Capital and JMI Equity. As co-founder Oren Netzer told VentureBeat, “We had half a dozen offers, but JMI was the best choice for a new partner because they know the space so well. We want to be the next DoubleClick and JMI helped DoubleClick grow and eventually be sold to Google for $3.1 billion.” Read More

The Third Degree

Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow on Perpetual Pivots and a Start-Up for Six-Toed Women


Mike Lazerow is an industry vet who managed to create profitable content sites in the dot-com era before transitioning into the social media age. First came University Wire, a sort of Associated Press for college newspapers, and then which he sold to Time Warner in 2006. As the founder and CEO of Buddy Media, he runs the largest third party platform for marketing on Facebook, with eight out of the top ten global advertisers among his clients. In 2011 he launched Lazerow Ventures, a $10 million family partnership and co-investment fund and has quickly become one of the city’s most active and sought after angels.

You always remember the ones that got away. Tell us about the start-up you regret passing on the most.

Well I bought into Facebook pretty early, but looking back, I had the chance to get in much sooner. They were pre-revenue and the valuation seemed high, so I passed. Zynga is like that too. Mark Pincus is a board member of Buddy Media and was at the time he was founding Zynga. I could certainly have been more vocal, could have pushed harder, to be an early investor in that, but at the time I didn’t really see it. Veterans like Fred Wilson or Brad Feld, who can separate the signal from the noise, they looked at Zynga and saw a company with a proven founder entering a wide open space with a huge market. I saw an online poker app.  Read More


New York Start-up Finds a Way to Help Advertisers Stop Using Cookies. Millions in Venture Capital Follow.

Peer39's Andy Ellenthal

Al Franken’s hard-hitting Location Privacy Protection Act, proposed yesterday, caught some advertisers by surprise, especially the part about informing consumers every time an app wants to share your information with third-party advertisers. But Peer39, a New York-based ad-tech start-up, saw the smoke signals years ago.

The company has been developing technology to sidestep private advocates’ other favorite boogeyman: cookies. Peer39, which started out in Israel, pivoted in 2009 from being an ad network to finding a way to help online advertisers wean themselves off cookies. Instead of following the digital crumbs, it uses semantic analysis to scrutinize the words on every Web page to help advertisers figure out where to place their ads.

The technology works in three ways. Using both natural language and machine learning, it identifies content-rich pages (as opposed to, say, a log-in page), lets advertisers target a specific category (retirees, personal finance), and a “safety feature” that lets Budweiser find alcohol-related pages, and Disney avoid them, reports Xconomy. Peer39 can also figure out when the sentiment behind a word has changed, like when “Joplin” became more associated with the tornado than the singer. In May, Peer39 raised $5.2 million in a Series D round, bringing it’s total funding to $27 million from firms like Caanan Partners, SVB Financial Group, and JP Morgan. Read More