LONDON, 13 February 2018: Foresight Group (“Foresight”) has invested several million pounds of growth capital from Foresight VCT plc (“FVCT”) into PowerLinks Media Limited (“PowerLinks” or the “Company”).
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The investment completes a larger Series A round of funding, with additional participation from leading angel investors and PowerLinks management.
PowerLinks is a software platform, which automates the buying and selling of personally relevant and user-friendly “native” advertising. PowerLinks is emerging as a leader in a new generation of advertising platforms, connecting advertisers and publishers in a data-rich marketplace, which processes over 6 billion auctions each day. Ads are bought and sold in real-time, based on precisely defined customer interest profiles, which are augmented by PowerLinks unique “Personal Relevance” data. Unlike traditional digital ads, PowerLinks ads are visually styled in real-time to align with the surrounding webpage or mobile app, thereby delivering a non-intrusive, “native” user experience. This approach provides advertisers with a seamless route to scale with personalised messaging, driving superior engagement levels and a significantly lower cost of customer acquisition. Increasingly the platform’s success is driving demand from search and social advertising into the independent content web.
The investment follows a year of success and expansion, which has seen PowerLinks marketplace surpass 4,000 advertising campaigns from 140 connected advertisers, driving revenue growth of 100%+ year-on-year. PowerLinks has also strengthened the relationship with its advertising partner Microsoft, graduating Cohort 7 of the Microsoft Accelerator program for Series A start-ups.
The capital injection is intended to accelerate PowerLinks’ expansion in the US, with planned additions across the sales, client services and technology teams. The Company will also partner with global customers to roll out support in dozens of new markets, having recently expanded in Amsterdam and Berlin.
PowerLinks has integrated 56 analytics, audience data and media vendors, and will continue to integrate partners which bolster the transparency and automation available to customers. In particular, PowerLinks is adding leading AI and Cognitive Services to its context-focused “Personal Relevance Platform”, which provides granular targeting and brand safety, whilst complying with the incoming European GDPR data laws.
As part of Foresight’s investment, PowerLinks is pleased to boost its management team with the appointment of Alex Rahaman as Chairman and Mickey Christodoulides as Finance Director.
Rahaman is an experienced AdTech entrepreneur who most recently grew StrikeAd, the VC backed mobile programmatic platform he founded, until its sale to Sizmek Inc. He has led several scale-ups in the AdTech space including Unanimis, an independent ad network exited to France Telecom, from which he spun out OpenX, one of the largest global programmatic platforms. Rahaman brings growth, exit and international sector experience and contacts to the team, and has previously held CEO, COO and CFO roles. Rahaman is also CEO of NEXD, a creative technology business with offices in London and across Europe.
Christodoulides has 17 years’ experience of building best practice finance departments, eight of which have been within AdTech and media companies. He was the Group Financial Controller for Unruly Media, where he was heavily involved in the company’s £114m sale to News Corp, the publishing giant owned by Rupert Murdoch. Additionally, Christodoulides has previously implemented new finance and ERP systems as well as having experience across both US and UK financial reporting.
The investment in PowerLinks which closed in December last year, marked the fourteenth deal for Foresight’s private equity team in 2017.
John Cordrey, Investment Manager, Foresight commented: “PowerLinks represents an opportunity to back a high growth business, operating in an exciting segment of the fast growing AdTech sector, with a strong management team and well invested platform. Powerlinks has delivered exceptional growth and built fantastic client relationships. We welcome Alex and Mickey, whose sector experience will ensure we continue to provide the best quality of service to our growing roster of customers.”
Kevin Flood, CEO, PowerLinks commented: “PowerLinks is poised to drive exponential growth for our customers, by meeting the challenge of automating relevant, personalised advertising to busy consumers who are overwhelmed with choice. This investment will accelerate our expansion and innovation plans. We are delighted to have Foresight’s backing and shared vision. The Foresight team, together with the recent appointment of Alex and Mickey, will inject a wealth of experience in scaling transformative digital businesses”
Alex Rahaman, Chairman, PowerLinks commented: “Programmatic native advertising is at a tipping point and PowerLinks is extremely well placed to take advantage. I have been very impressed with Kevin and the team and how they have innovated in a competitive sector. It will be an honour to become Chairman of this exciting company, and I look forward to it continuing to deliver on its strategy for growth”
Advisers on this deal included:
Legal Adviser: RW Blears
Financial due diligence: WY Partners
Commercial due diligence: RPL Ltd
Technology due diligence: Intuitus Advisory
Management due diligence: Catalysis Advisory
For further information, please contact:
Ben Thompson, Foresight Group: firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 20 3667 8155
About Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”):
Foresight is a leading independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 30 years.
Foresight has £2.8bn of Assets under Management across a number of funds, including Listed Vehicles, Limited Partnerships, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EISs), Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Inheritance Tax Solutions using Business Property Relief (BPR).
Foresight’s Private Equity team, comprising 18 investment professionals, invests between £1m and £5m in management buy-outs, management buy-ins and growth capital investments in UK SMEs.
Foresight was voted “Best VCT Investment Manager” at the 2017 Growth Investor Awards, having previously been awarded “VCT House of the Year” at the 2016 Unquote British Private Equity awards.
Foresight has offices in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Guernsey, Rome, San Francisco and Sydney.