400MM mobile subscribers, advertising is local in nature. It seemed to make sense that there should be a mobile ad opportunity in India. So when we saw the InMobi plan it felt like a reasonable opportunity to invest in a mobile ad network targeted at the Indian market. The element that we got wrong was that there was a small ad market in India and the new mobile ad dollars were going to take some time to come in. What we got right was that investments in technology / product would be useful and enable us to expand the business outside of India to be a global player.
We invested in InMobi when apps were still just getting started and the world felt like it would be very much a mobile web world. Today apps dominate the mobile ecosystem and the fragmentation and global adoption makes for a very interesting ecosystem. For example, it is very much the norm in today’s mobile world that an app developer in the UK, wants to reach a user in South Africa. The user in South Africa, just happens to be playing a game that was made by a company from Finland. It’s also more likely than not that each of the companies are probably no more than 3-4 years old and may have just 5 employees.
It's an amazing world that we was fortunate enough to see develop from the inside as we played an active role with InMobi (I was a board member) and also in an operational role as head of corporate development for a few years as we bought three companies (2 in the UK and 1 in the US). The mobile ad space is an exciting area and we are happy to see InMobi all grown up and showing world the truly global business that we can build from here in India.
*While at Sherpalo, we were involved with building InMobi and are proud to see it evolve into one of the world’s most innovative technology startups.
InMobi is the largest independent mobile advertising network in the world. It has challenged Apple & Goggle in innovation on mobile-first advertising platforms. It was listed as one of MIT Technology Review's 50 most disruptive companies in 2013.
if the deal goes through, it may be the biggest signal yet that the Indian technology ecosystem is evolving to its next phase. It will pave the way for the emergence of a future consolidator in India’s technology market.