Funding Bolsters HookMedia; Expansion Planned

HookMedia last week received $15 million in venture capital to fund expansion into new markets, recruit and train employees, and improve technology.
“We literally were oversubscribed,” said HookMedia founder and president Don Epperson of venture-capital interest in the firm’s second round of funding. The Boston Internet-media company specializes in buying and planning.
Bain Capital’s Brookside Capital Partners Fund, Audax Ventures and Still River Fund, all of Boston, and Advanta Partners of Philadelphia combined put $15 million into the company.
“We’ll use the money to invest in people and training and infrastructure,” Epperson said.
As a result of the investment, HookMedia’s board will be expanded from three to five members to include Audax managing director Jack O’Malley and a Brookside appointee to be named. The board
is currently comprised of Epperson, initial investor Joe Tishchler, managing director of Still River Fund, and Pro Media chairman and founder Nancy Ryan.
“These are individuals that are connected throughout the communications industry, whom I trust will introduce us to new ad partners and new technology partners,” Epperson said of the new board members.
Some of the funds will also be earmarked for marketing. Philip Johnson Associates in Boston is handling creative development for HookMedia, founded by Epperson almost two years ago inside Pro Media, an offline media-buying company in Natick, Mass. [Adweek, March 20]. It spun out as an independent company several months ago and now counts among its growing client roster a range of clients, from startups, such as ZapData in Waltham, Mass., to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Family-Education Network, Allaire Corp., and more than two dozen others.
Epperson plans by the end of this year to have full-service offices open in Atlanta and Chicago, and has done some preliminary prospecting in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets and overseas in Britain and Germany, he said.
Its main competitors are two publicly traded companies–Avenue A in Seattle and MediaPlex in San Francisco. Epperson intends to differentiate HookMedia by being a full-service provider of Internet-media solutions, from planning and buying to so-called optimization and analysis. “There is a huge market opportunity,” he said. “Our biggest challenge is going to be supply. It is not a demand problem.”