The Next Ad Tech IPO? Turn Hires Its First CFO

Hiring of Adobe Vet Joe Nemeth Could Be a 'Public' Sign

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Fast-growing ad tech firm Turn has hired Adobe's Joe Nemeth as its first chief financial officer.

Mr. Nemeth worked at Adobe for 13 years and was most recently the company's VP-corporate strategy and finance, where he had a hand both in acquisitions and helping to create and oversee the company's financial processes.

Joe Nemeth
Joe Nemeth

Mr. Nemeth brings a wealth of M&A and finance experience to Turn, which could signal a few things. For one, it may mean Turn is ready to go on an acquisition spree and wanted someone on board who has had a hand in many, including Adobe's giant $1.8 billion purchase of Omniture. Yet the more likely subtext is that the company is hiring a finance pro to get the necessary processes in place ahead of a not-so-distant IPO – perhaps in the next 12 to 18 months.

Turn CEO Bill Demas of course wouldn't commit to either. "We're very content right now to be an independent private company," he said.

But Mr. Demas has been speaking at some private Wall Street conferences where bankers interested in future IPO candidates are a plenty. And, in an interview, Mr. Nemeth stressed the importance of his experience at a public company.

"I know the cycles, the patterns and all the intense preparation necessary to develop a strategy around financial plans," he said. "Ultimately, there are more processes you need when you help scale a company of this size."

Turn has two main businesses. It owns one of the top demand-side platforms – a technology that lets advertisers buy ad inventory in real time while targeting certain categories of web users across different sites. It also has built a data-management platform that some agencies and marketers use in conjunction with its ad-buying technology, and which others use as a standalone product.

Mr. Demas said 2012 was a breakthrough year for the company. Though he declined to provide actual numbers, he said gross revenue last year just about matched that of the six previous years combined.

Turn's 2011 gross revenue surpassed $100 million, according to Inc., and the magazine estimated that the firm would top $250 million in 2012. But those numbers, while impressive, only tell part of the company's financial story. A chunk of that gross revenue number is simply ad spend that flows through the Turn DSP platform, but the firm only nets a percentage of that spend.

Turn said that it made money in 2011 and 2012 before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

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