The first rule of Startup Club is take the money when you can. Spot Runner CEO Nick Grouf understands that, which is why he just raised $51 million in a C round from a group of strategic investors that include the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), Grupo Televisa, Legg Mason Capital Management, and Groupe Arnault/LVMH. And that’s on top of the $60 million in venture capital he raised in 2006 from a laundry list of A-list investors (Battery, Index, Allen & Co., Capital Research and Management, CBS, and Lachlan Murdoch), some of whom ponied up again this time. Surely, he didn’t burn through his cash already? Grouf says:
No, we were not running out of cash. This was an opportunity for us to build out a bit of a war chest that we will look to use in investments to expand our platform beyond just television and online but into other media, as well as expansion overseas, and acquisitions.
Basically, the money was there, so he took it. Grouf wouldn’t specify Spot Runner’s valuation, but when I asked him if it was higher or lower than the $250 million guesstimate that Silicon Alley Insider <a href=" recently put out, he laughed and confirmed that it was higher. I’d hope so, with $110 million invested, it should be closer to a $500 million valuation.
If Grouf wants to expand to markets overseas, this group of investors should be able to help. The Daily Mail and General trust is one of the largest media companies in Britain, with papers, Websites, and radio stations. Grupo Televisa is one of the largest media companies in Spanish-speaking countries, with TV channels, cable and satellite services, magazines, and radio stations. And Arnault/LVMH owns one of the biggest collections of luxury brands in the world (Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Donna Karan, Sephora and TAG Heuer).
Spot Runner automates and the buying of regular TV ads for bothe local and national businesses. Both the creation and placement of the ads is all managed online. Grouf wants to expand beyond TV advertising. Last March, he bought Weblistic, which helps small, local businesses run online ad campaigns. Grouf is already dabbling in radio ads, but wants to ratchet that up, and move into print ads as well.
He’d better move fast because Google has some of the exact same plans—although Google admittedly doesn’t yet have much to show for its TV, print, and radio efforts. Grouf wants to scale up before Google gets serious.