Pasadena online ad firm OpenX buys LiftDNA on way to possible IPO

OpenX Technologies Inc., the Pasadena-based digital ad technology firm, has made its first acquisition, purchasing Pennsylvania's LiftDNA for an undisclosed sum.

OpenX runs a high-speed advertising marketplace that helps websites and other digital properties rent space on their sites to advertisers, analogous to a service that would help highway billboard owners locate businesses interested in selling blank space on signs on which to place ads.

But online, advertisements pop into Web pages every time a user loads a page, so a sale of space on that page can happen thousands of times every minute.  At those speeds, web site owners need software to help them automatically sell and re-sell spots on their pages, and that's what OpenX does.

OpenX says LiftDNA complements that process by sifting through a sea of potential rental opportunities and identifying the ones that may yield the most money for website owners. OpenX currently handles more than 200 billion of these advertising transactions every month.

"It's a complicated world to navigate," said Tim Cadogan, chief executive of OpenX. "Most publishers don't have a huge team to think through all the choices, and to navigate all the technologies. We're saying, 'We'll just do that for you.' " 

OpenX takes a 20% commission on all sales, and its customers will also pay a fee to use LiftDNA's technology, as much as 15% of each transaction.

Founded in 2007, OpenX said this year that it was now a profitable enterprise, pulling in $100 million in revenue on an annualized basis. The company has said it is now on the road to going public, though it hasn't made a final decision on the timing.

"We are taking all of the necessary steps so that, should we decide to access the public capital markets, we'd be prepared to do so," company spokesman Al Duncan said.

The company has raised more than $50 million in venture funding and says it's technology is now used by more than 200,000 websites in 100 countries.


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