InMobi Bulks Up Offering, War Chest

Today, inMobi announced it had completed a $200 million investment from Softbank Corp. The funding will come in two tranches: $100 million immediately and another $100 million by April 2012.

“We’ve been positioning ourselves to play in the mobile ecosystem, not just the mobile ad network space,” Naveen Tewari, inMobi founder and CEO, said in a conference call this morning.

The company originally focused on performance advertising. Tewari wants to create a one-stop shop to enable not only advertising, but also the ability for mobile app developers to monetize their apps, receive payments and enable rich media advertising through Sprout.

InMobi acquired Sprout, a cloud-based HTML5 rich media ad creation platform, in August. In addition to letting creative agencies take the lead in HTML5 ad creation for mobile phones, the acquisition could bring in revenue from inMobi’s rival mobile ad networks.

The four-year-old ad network, founded in India, sold billions of impressions in Asia, Africa and Europe before launching in the United States in 2010.

Tewari said the company will invest heavily in hiring engineering talent, as well as acquire more companies across the globe. InMobi has offices in 15 countries, and wants to be a major player in several markets including China and Korea.

“Our belief is that the mobile advertising business will not be concentrated in a handful of countries,” Tewari said. “Today, it has huge relevance in over 25 countries; in the next twelve month, it will go up to 50 or 60. You can’t manage that business centrally. You have to form relationships in those markets to capitalize on that.”

Gartner forecasts that worldwide mobile advertising revenue will reach $3.3 billion in 2011, more than double the $1.6 billion generated in 2010.

In January, Google said the AdMob network received more than 2 billion ad requests a day, quadrupling volume in the previous six months. Meanwhile, Apple’s iAd platform is struggling, with the iPad maker lowering the minimum spend to $300,000 in July.

InMobi reports that it serves more than 47 billion mobile ad impressions monthly. In July 2011, the company said it had 83 million monthly U.S. users on its ad network and expected to reach 75 percent of all U.S. smart phone users by the end of the year.

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