Companies have differing needs for capital as they grow past the startup phase, build scale and support ongoing innovation to remain competitive. Before joining digital media authentication firm DoubleVerify as chief executive last year, Mark Zagorski was well acquainted with these stages in a career that has included a variety startups.
Most recently, he led DoubleVerify through an initial public offering (IPO) of stock to raise $340 million. The company has a market value of about $6.23 billion, based on its current stock price.
“We look at the journey to an IPO as not one in which the IPO was the destination. It was one step on a much longer path towards continued growth over time,” Zagorski said in this interview with Beet.TV. “The IPO provided us with lots of capital that we can continue to invest and grow in our mission to create a stronger, safer and more secure digital advertising ecosystem.”
As a company that seeks to make the digital ad market more transparent by ensuring that real people see ads and not bots, DoubleVerify also aims to build confidence in its business by disclosing its financial performance as a public company, Zagorski said.
Before joining DoubleVerify, he was chief executive of sell-side platform Telaria, which last year completed a merger with Rubicon Project to form Magnite. The deal was another sign of the ongoing evolution of the ad-tech industry.
“It’s always changing, and there’s always a new opportunity for growth,” Zagorski said. “The companies that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of have been…at the forefront of what’s next. That’s what has kept me engaged over all these years.”
As important as fundraising is to startups, they also need to find solid investment partners that can provide strategic advice when necessary.
“You need capital to continued to grow, but money is, I hate to say it, money’s not easy, but money is plentiful,” Zagorski said. “It’s what comes with that money that’s most important. What you really need to consider is who’s your partner that’s helping you bring those new dollars in, and what are they going to be after those dollars come in.”
The best investment partners are ones that are thinking beyond transactions and about the longer-term growth prospects for a company. That view includes those times when businesses face challenges.
“When times are good, there are lots of people who want to be your friend,” Zagorski said. “It’s those that are going to be there when times get tough, when you need strategic advice, when selling your story isn’t a slam dunk to every investor that you meet. Those are the real partners, and that’s who you should look for as a strategic adviser.”
The digital ad market is going through a period of upheaval as privacy concerns drive tech companies to end support for tracking technologies like third-party cookies and device identifiers. The shift from people-based measurement will force advertisers to develop other ways to measure engagement in a cross-screen environment.
“The companies that are not only tracking that activity, but learning how to engage with users across all those screens are exciting opportunities for companies like mine who want to partner with them, but also for investors who are looking for growth opportunities,” Zagorski said.
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