“Cloud-based” anything is so trendy lately that it’s almost a cliché. And yet investors flock to the idea, even when its tacked onto a five-year-old company’s product as it pivots into a new direction. Advertising technology company Flite in March scored a new round of funding on a rising valuation, coinciding with the launch of its Cloud Ad product.
The company, founded as Widgetbox, but in March of this year, changed its name to Flite. The change reflects a strategy switch-up as well. As Widgetbox, the company focused on creating tools to build widgets. But Flite has pivoted with the launch of its advertising product, a technology that allows digital advertisers to create unique, targeted display ads. The Flite ads promise a 10x increase in advertising return on investment. ROI has, in general been an elusive figure for digital display advertising.
Then in late May, the company launched its two Cloud Ad units, called Lift Off and Brand Pilot. The idea is, Flite’s display ads are dynamic. They include evolving content that leverages social network content, location data, all updated in real time. Its Lift Off unit in particular allows companies to show off demos of new products and even conduct e-commerce transactions, all within the display ad box.
Flite serves ads on 7.7 million sites in 241 countries to the tune of 25 billion impressions since its founding in 2006. Content provides including Yahoo!, LinkedIn, IDG, CBS, L’Oreal, Microsoft, Toyota and Schwab all use Flite’s advertising platform. The company still operates Widgetbox, a provider of embeddable Web tools for sharing content like Flickr accounts, RSS feeds, Youtube accounts, Twitter feeds, polls, video galleries, countdowns, slideshows and more. The company offers mobile widgets for iPhone and Android as well; all of its products come with analytics software.
The March pivot coincided with Flite’s latest round of funding. The company raised $12 million from General Catalyst Partners, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Northgate Capital Group and Sequoia Capital. The round valued Flite at $82.5 million, according to VC Experts Valuation & Deal Terms Database.
It tops off three previous rounds of fundraising; in total, Flite’s collected $26 million. In 2008, the company raised $8 million at a $61 million valuation. The year prior, the company had raised $4.9 million, and in 2006, it collected its first round of funding, worth $1.5 million.
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