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Kauli plans IPO to fund U.S., Asian expansion

Bloomberg

Kauli Inc., a digital-advertising company, is planning an initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to finance expansion in the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

The Tokyo-based company is seeking to go public by March next year, Chief Executive Officer Katsuhiro Takata said in an interview last Friday in his office.

Kauli may seek a valuation of more than ¥30 billion in the offering, according to a source with knowledge of the matter but who asked not to be named because the information is private.

Kauli’s potential IPO comes after Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. acquired startups offering technology that helps Internet publishers maximize their advertising revenue. Kauli runs a platform that lets advertisers place real-time bids for advertising spots based on user profiles.

“The Twitter and Google acquisitions signaled growing demand for the area of digital-ad technology and gave us a push to expand in this business,” Takata, 36, said. “At the same time, it’s a business we’ve got to evolve and upgrade in a short period of time to survive.”

Twitter acquired MoPub Inc. last year for about $350 million in a deal that added real-time bidding to the microblogging service’s ad platform, people with knowledge of the purchase said in September. Google bought ad exchange operator AdMeld Inc. in 2011 for about $400 million.

Takata declined to comment on the potential IPO valuation.

Investors in Kauli include D2C Inc., a marketing firm backed by Dentsu Inc. and NTT Docomo Inc., according to the company’s website. Other backers include Draper Nexus Venture Partners and GMO Venture Partners Inc., the website shows.

Kauli plans to expand in the U.S., South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia in coming years, said Takata, who founded Kauli in February 2009 after earning a doctorate in computer science from Tokyo’s Hosei University.

Spending in Japan on Internet advertising more than doubled in the eight years through 2013 to ¥938.1 billion, driven by an increase in usage of smartphones, according to a Feb. 20 report from Dentsu, Asia’s biggest advertising firm.