Cinven Invests in Ad-Tech Outfit RTB House to Further U.S. Growth

Private equity firm talks up potential inorganic growth opportunities

Private equity firms have taken an increasing interest in ad tech in recent years. Getty Images
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Private equity investment in ad tech continued to gather steam with today’s announcement that Cinven has agreed to take a stake in Poland-based RTB House. It’s the latest in a long line of similar deals.

Financial details were not disclosed, although sources said Cinven will hold a “substantial stake” in RTB House once the deal, which is still subject to regulatory and antitrust approvals, is complete.

According to Cinven, the investment will be used to further RTB House’s international expansion “both organically and through acquisition” as well as by leveraging the private equity firm’s existing presence in the U.S. where it hopes to assemble a unique tech offering that will prove attractive to media buyers.

Founded in 2012, RTB House primarily offers online ad retargeting; works with a series of blue-chip brands including Adidas, Trivago and Walmart; has 20 global outposts–in 2018 it debuted in the U.S. market with staff in Boston and New York City–and is already profitable, according to sources.

Chris Good, a partner at Cinven, said, “There are particularly exciting growth opportunities in North America where Cinven has previously successfully grown technology-related businesses including CPA Global.”

“As ecommerce continues to grow, retailers are focusing increasingly on ways to improve their marketing mix, with retargeting playing a very important role,” added Adam Prindis, a principal at Cinven. “We are very excited about the investment in RTB House which offers truly differentiated solutions, based on advanced AI.”

RTB House CEO Robert Dyczkowski and CTO Bartłomiej Romańsk noted that Cinven’s track record of helping scale companies in the U.S. made it an attractive investment prospect. Advisors to Cinven on the transaction included Clifford Chance, Deloitte, Medialink, Prohaska, RBC Capital Markets and Vienna Capital Partners.

In a statement sent to Adweek, Bryan Halper, vp, finance and global investor strategy at Prohaska Consulting, noted that advertisers are looking for credible alternatives to major platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Google and that independent ad tech can prosper in such a climate.

“As the digital market has continued to grow over the last several years, the entire pot has grown, leaving the opportunity for exceptional returns from companies that are able to capture even just a small percentage of the overall market,” Halper said. “Aside from those economics, there are additional benefits that can be realized from customers utilizing a more specialized player that can quickly respond to and focus on their specific needs.”

Private equity firms have been taking an increased interest in ad tech, with Providence Equity taking a $200 million stake in measurement specialist DoubleVerify in 2017, echoing a similar transaction a year earlier that saw Vector Capital take a stake in Sizmek and subsequently go on to purchase Rocket Fuel. Meanwhile, Vista Equity Partners took a stake in ad verification company Integral Ad Science midway through 2018.

Other ad-tech moves by strategic players include RTL Group buying Yospace, Innovid capturing $30 million in Series E funding from Goldman Sachs and video-centric demand-side platform DataXu exploring a sale worth $300 million.

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.