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Exclusive: Ratan Tata may back mobile advertising platform InMobi

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata is likely to invest an undisclosed amount in the Bangalore- and San Francisco-based mobile advertising platform InMobi, a person privy to the development told Techcircle.in. The investment would add ad-tech space to his diverse startup portfolio.

Once completed, the deal would be Tata’s eighth investment in less than two months. Tata-one of India’s most active angel investors-invested in nearly 30 startups since retiring as head of Tata Group at the end of December 2012.

An InMobi spokesperson declined to comment on the development. An email sent to Tata did not elicit a response immediately.

Last week, Tata made an undisclosed investment in Delhi-based biopharmaceutical firm Invictus Oncology Pvt Ltd and online marketplace for industrial tools Moglix. Besides, he invested in specialty tea e-tailer Teabox.com, baby products e-commerce site FirstCry.com, animal lovers’ portal Dogspot, startup analytics firm Tracxn and coupons site CashKaro in 2016.

Set up in 2007, InMobi’s platform enables brands, publishers and developers to engage with consumers globally through mobile advertising. It has 24 offices in 17 countries. The seven-year-old company is also the world’s third-largest player in the fast-growing mobile advertising industry, with only Facebook and Google ahead of it.

The company had last raised about $100 million in fresh debt from a consortium of lenders led by US-based Tennenbaum Capital Partners in September 2015. It had previously raised about $200 million from Japan’s Softbank Corp in 2011. Before that, it had mobilised a total of $15.6 million in three rounds of funding from marquee venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures. It raised $500,000 in 2007, $7.1 million in 2008 and $8 million in Series B funding in 2010.

Last year, InMobi joined hands with Amazon India, mobile wallet Paytm and others for the India launch of Miip, a platform for discovery-led mobile commerce. Miip engages users by suggesting products across apps.

InMobi, which claims to have recorded an annual turnover of more than $500 million in February last year, says its mobile ad network reached more than a billion unique mobile devices across 200 countries in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Tata has been primarily backing startups but has also come as an investor in a few large companies which have been looking at such deals as a means to gain from his experience and network rather than  fundraising exercises. InMobi is one such transaction besides others such as Ola, Paytm, Snapdeal and Xiaomi.

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