The Journey

Startup 6.0 – the Rubicon Project: Internet Advertising

May 24th, 2007   |   by Frank Addante

OK, as I eluded to in my previous post, I have decided to take the plunge, yet again, and start another company. So, I am on to Startup 6.0…

This one is so new, we don’t even have an official company name, yet. So, we decided to code name it “the Rubicon Project”. Rubicon is a popular idiom that means to “go past the point of no return”. The phrase “crossing the Rubicon” has come to represent the moment when people commit themselves to a risky and revolutionary course of action. If you want to read more about the history of the name, click here and go to About Us.

As I mentioned previously, I am taking a slightly different direction with this blog. I plan to do more frequent, informal updates to document the events and decisions that need to be made from the inception of a startup company. I will try to be as transparent as possible while still preserving the level of confidentiality that the company needs to maintain its edge.

This new company is in the Internet advertising (technology) space. See my previous post for some background on my thinking: GoogleClick – Who owns your cash register?

I’ll go into our plans in future posts, as they unfold.

Today, I figure I would give a little background on how and why I decided to start a new company.

Let’s start with the “how”. After being involved in the start of 5 consecutive (fast-growth) companies, I really thought long and hard about how I wanted to do this next one. My initial thinking was that I was going to either do more of a “lifestyle business” (slower growth, complete control, but steady growth that would give me a lot of flexibility and low stress, presumably) or an “incuabator” (invest in multiple ideas, lend my experience, vision and network to each of the ideas and expect to hit a bunch of singles and doubles and hopefully a triple, home run and maybe even a grand slam). I debated this with myself for a while.

As I was talking with someone about my internal debate, they said to me — “why don’t you just keep doing what you’re good at?”. That struck a chord with me. I quickly came to realize that I’m not the “slow-growth” guy, I’m not the kind of guy that can do things part-time (as in the incubator model). I’m the 0-60mph, go as fast as you can, pedal to the metal, stop at nothing in my path kind of guy. Every time I try one of these slow-growth or incubator type models, I’ve always ended up jumping into one of them and going full force. So, I figured, why fool myself into thinking it would be any different this time? So, here I am, getting ready for 0 to 60 again.

So, now the “what” part. I’ll get into details on the business idea itself in later posts… But, here’s what happened. I’ve ALWAYS been very passionate about the Internet advertising space. I just love the space. Big opportunity, cool people, creative, dynamic and it is very much a relationship driven business… I recently took some time off to reconnect with old friends. I met with my old team from L90, the team that built adMonitor (the advertising platform that delivered billions of ads per month for over 3,000 blue-chip customers, where we had a successful $112 million IPO and then DoubleClick acquired it). I’ve worked with some of them in more than one of my companies, so we all have a long history of working together. After a few lunches, dinners and drinks, it turned out that they were all ready and eager to get the “old team” back together, jump back in and do something big in the Internet advertising space. This all happened in a matter of days, by the way… I had no intentions of starting another company so soon. We were just catching up… Next thing you know, not even two weeks later we’re rushing around looking for office space, building a website, hiring, etc.

So, the “what” is simple. I’m getting back into a space that I love. I’m working with a top-notch, first class, A++ team (Craig, Duc and Julie) — that just happened to fall into place. They are all rock stars. And, the market that I love just happens to be on fire right now and the gap seems to be widening. The stars just came into alignment all at once. I always say that first thing to do is to find a big market and then connect an army to that market. So, that’s where I’m at, and that’s what got me into doing Startup 6.0. If I only had 1 part of that equation (big market or great team), I wouldn’t be here — having both is essential.

As I said, I’ll get more into the vision later. But, the short of it is that while the Internet advertising market is an enormous market ($27 Billion today, and growing), it is a highly inefficient one. We are going to make it more efficient through highly innovative technology. There is a lack of technology innovation available for website owners and publishers to most effectively monetize their sites through advertising. Because of this, the websites, the ad networks they use and the advertisers are not working together as efficiently or as effectively as they could be. We are going to target the publishers, arm them with the smartest, most innovative technology and help them work more efficiently with all of the advertising networks and advertisers that are available to them today.

To learn more about we’re up to, you can visit http://www.RubiconProject.com.