Criteo Nabs Nearly $40 Million Funding Round

Retargeting firm downplays acquisition or IPO talk

Display retargeting company Criteo has been profitable since 2009, but that hasn’t kept it from raising extra cash on the side. In its latest round announced Tuesday, the New York firm raked in 30 million euros ($38.9 million) led by SoftBank Capital, which boasts an investment portfolio that includes The Huffington Post, Zynga and Gilt Groupe.

“We have some tremendous opportunities where we can bet heavily in marketplaces around the world with the monies we just raised,” said Criteo president Greg Coleman. Specifically, the funds could go toward building data centers in Japan to support the company’s partnership with Yahoo Japan, he said. As part of that deal announced last month, Criteo became the first company able to access Yahoo Japan’s display inventory. Criteo is looking to expand its Asian business into China as well, which “requires capital to get in there,” Coleman said.

The European-based company has a solid track record at cracking new regions. Criteo came to the U.S. in 2010, and Coleman said that business became profitable this past July and is now the company’s biggest country in terms of revenue.

But it’s not only regions in which Criteo sees revenue growth opportunities. The company was a beta partner of the Facebook Exchange, which lets the retargeter tap into inventory from the site that served up 28 percent of total U.S. online ad impressions last year. Criteo is already “buying quite a bit of inventory today” through FBX, Coleman said. But there are opportunities beyond the inventory. Coleman said Criteo is working with Facebook so that by the end of the year Criteo will be able to start serving dynamic ads on Facebook, which will allow Criteo to rotate the products and pricing shown in its ads using people's off-Facebook browsing behavior.

Criteo is also looking to expand beyond its current rep as a down-funnel retargeting firm and go full-funnel. Its 3,000 advertisers fall mainly in the retail, travel and classified categories, but Coleman said the firm’s working on a “top-of-funnel CPC product” that would appeal to auto, finance and telecom brands among others seeking new customers.

That’s all well and good, but what about this AllThingsD report that Yahoo is eyeing Criteo as one of many acquisition targets? “If somebody wants to tap us on the shoulder to talk, we’ll engage in the conversation, but there’s not anything we’re actively doing right now,” said Coleman, a former Yahoo sales exec. All right, so when’s the IPO? That’s another consideration “among a number of things going forward,” he said. “Right now we have enough money to make huge bets in areas we think will pay off. Being profitable, we don’t see the need to ever raise again.”

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