comScore Nabs $15 Million in Financing

Despite the worsening climate for online metrics firms, comScore Networks brought home $15 million in its latest round of financing from existing investors.

Led by Chicago-based Adams Street Partners, Reston, Va.-based comScore’s latest round also saw funding from Accel Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, J.P. Morgan Partners/Flatiron Partners, and Lehman Brothers Venture Fund.

Through the financing, Adams Street’s Tom Berman will join comScore’s board of directors.

Even aside from the harsh climate for venture capital financing in general, it’s a remarkable accomplishment for the firm — which has had a product in the market for less than a year — as the online measurement industry continues to experience some of its most violent contortions to date.

Publicly traded NetRatings, which is 60 percent owned by Nielsen Media Research, reported last month a $0.03 per share pro forma loss on slipping revenues (down 8.9 percent from last quarter, when the firm posted a penny in profit before one-time charges).

Meanwhile, the space’s other leader, Jupiter Media Metrix, has seen several rounds of cuts and tweaks to its upper ranks. Despite cutting its EBITDA quarterly loss by two cents, to $0.28 per share, New York-based Jupiter is still losing almost three times as much than it did a year ago. Jupiter also reported that it would likely burn through most of its $50 million cash horde by the next of third quarter, although it secured $25 million a letter of credit from J.P. Morgan Chase.

In another telling sign of the industry’s woes, Jupiter in March slapped Nielsen//NetRatings, PCData Online, and NetValue with a lawsuit that alleged that the firms violated Jupiter’s seven-month-old patent for using a panel to track online Web activity — and which sought an permanent injunction.

Following the suit, PCData promptly settled with Jupiter and sold off its assets to comScore and NetValue. A month later, the two small firms struck a defensive strategic alliance, with comScore licensing its panel and technology to NetValue, which in turn agreed to promote comScore in worldwide markets where it had yet to gain a foothold.

With even industry leaders continuing to feel the pinch of a difficult market — and small players scrambling for free market share — comScore’s said it sees its newest round as being crucial to becoming a major player.

Already, the firm is well known for having the largest panels, consisting of some 1.5 million opt-in Internet, and clients including as Microsoft, Kraft and Ford Motor Company. In addition, comScore has gained credibility by landing a high-profile partnership with online ad industry leader, DoubleClick.

“We are delighted by this vote of confidence from these blue chip investors, especially in this difficult financing environment,” said comScore president and chief executive Magid Abraham. “This round is a testament to the unique assets that we have built, the outstanding client response we have garnered and, last but not least, to our scalable business model which is squarely focused on helping real companies leverage the power of the Internet.”

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