InMobi is a global mobile advertising and discovery platform that claims to reach over 1.5 billion unique mobile devices worldwide. The platform enables consumers to discover new products and services by providing contextual, relevant, and curated recommendations on mobile apps and devices. Their mobile-first platform allows brands, developers and publishers to engage consumers through mobile advertising.
The company was founded in 2007 under the moniker mKhoj by Naveen Tewari, Mohit Saxena, Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal. In 2008, it was enhanced from SMS-based services to mobile advertising and rebranded as InMobi. The company is backed by Soft Bank, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Ram Shriram's Sherpalo Ventures.
InMobi has raised a total of US$215.6 million in three rounds of funding – US$0.5 million in 2007, US$7.1 million in Series A funding in 2008, US$8 million in Series B funding in 2010, US$200 million in Series C funding in 2011.
InMobi has 22 offices in 17 countries across 5 continents and employs around 1000 people. InMobi provides mobile advertising solutions and competes with Facebook and Google on the mobile advertising front.
InMobi started off in 2007, when it was known as mKhoj (mobile khoj), providing SMS-based search engine services. Started by the four founders out of a residential apartment in Mumbai, it has since grown into one of India’s first Unicorns. The founders later felt the need to rebrand to InMobi as the company shifted focus from mobile search to mobile advertising. The company initially focused on growing the business in emerging markets such as Asia, Africa and entered the US in 2009. By this time, InMobi had already established their presence in the developing nations. ‘InMobi’ was also thought to be easier to pronounce in the western world as compared to mKhoj – which is a derivative of the Hindi word for ‘search’.
The first round of funding of US$0.5 million InMobi (then mKhoj) received was from Mumbai Angels in August 2006. After rebranding the company from mKhoj to InMobi, they received Series A funding of US$7.1 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2008, and Series B funding to the tune of US$8 million in 2010.
In 2011, the start-up raised US$200 million from Softbank. The investment was doled out in two tranches — US$100 million in 2011 and the rest in 2012.In August 2011, InMobi acquired US-based mobile advertising solutions provider Sprout, which was backed by Polaris Partners. Sprout, which provided the platform for creating #html5 rich media advertising, was renamed InMobi Studio in 2012.
InMobi had partnered with Amobee, end-to-end mobile advertising solutions and services provider for a span of three years during which the company ran campaigns via InMobi’s ad network.
In July 2012, InMobi acquired MMTG Labs, a San Francisco-based start-up that operates Facebook apps marketplace Appbistro as well as white label app distribution platform AppGalleries. Per TechCrunch, the new platform AppGallery was the reason for InMobi acquisition of MMTG.
Post-MMTG acquisition, InMobi acquired Metaflow Solutions, a mobile app management and distribution company in the same year. This provides InMobi another platform to reach out to independent app developers and publishers.
In September 2015, InMobi entered a monetization partnership with China-based APUS group, which allows users to customize their android screens. The partnership provides the company access to an estimated 500 million users in China as well as exclusive access to all APUS users in India.
In October 2016, InMobi partnered with Moat, a New York-based SaaS analytics company to offer advertisers mobile video measurement and currency measurement through InMobi Exchange – which provides media buyers an extensive and diverse set of engaging mobile ad experiences through mobile native and mobile video formats and the InMobi network.
InMobi partnered with Integral Ad Science in December 2016 to launch their Media Rating Council-accredited open source SDK code for mobile ad viewability.
In December 2016, InMobi also partnered exclusively with US-based Tapjoy, a mobile ads and app monetization company with around 40 million unique users in India.
The primary focus of InMobi has been on mobile advertising. The company’s platform aims to bring together publishers and advertisers to provide relevant, personalized and contextual advertisements to a user visiting the mobile app or website.
Since the company’s switch from an SMS-based search engine to an advertising platform, they have made several product announcements. The company started with simple text-based ads and has moved to include other ad formats such as video and native ads, including conventional ad formats such as interstitial and banner ads. The company also provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) for mobile app creators who wish to integrate InMobi’s advertising within their app.
In 2014, InMobi launched their native advertising and interactive video advertising platforms.
InMobi has tied up with over 30,000 app developers, across verticals of gaming, social, news, utility, entertainment among others to help them monetize their apps using mobile advertising.
InMobi launched their native advertising platform in 2014. Native advertising mimics the environment in which the ad is displayed thereby making it less intrusive to the end consumer.
Several advertising players had been increasing their focus on native ads to preserve the user experience on publishers’ websites and mobile apps by mimicking the environment in which they’re displayed. This form of advertising also curtails the adoption of ad blockers as the ads are unobtrusive.
InMobi claims to feature 80 of the top 100 AdAge brands on their network, through which it provides a huge database for publishers to use their native advertising platform to monetize users.
In 2014, InMobi launched their video advertising platform with the support of nine partners investing US$50,000 each receiving 200 million video views and over 60,000 conversions. Video as a format has witnessed a rise in consumption among users and video ads help content creators as well as publishers monetize their content.
In 2016, InMobi launched an advanced suit of video advertising formats. Key features of this service include:
1. Interactive Videos: Short form brand videos with interactive rich end cards which increase engagement by 2X compared to videos without end card.
2. Vertical Videos : Video formats that are truly mobile first – to be consumed by users in the most natural fashion in which they consume other content.
3. Native Videos : Building on the innovation of native ads, InMobi announced support for video to run in existing native ad slots within apps.
4. 360 Degree Videos: These video ads offer an immersive and inteactive experience for the user.
5. Opt-In Videos: 15-30 second non-skippable video ads that play at natural break points in the app interaction after a user opts in.
6. In-Stream Videos: Pre-roll and mid-roll video ads that auto play seamlessly within video content.
InMobi launched a new platform called Miip in 2015. The platform claimed to bring together advertisers and publishers in a bid to spark excitement among online shoppers. It also enabled them to discover new products using the concept of re-marketing.
The remarketing platform enables app developers and marketers to retarget existing users across InMobi’s global ad network and exchange by implementing a mobile growth strategy across the entire conversion funnel. The remarketing platform helps advertisers nudge users to make their first purchase, re-target existing users to drive incremental sales and re-activate dormant mobile users. The platform increases in-app conversions by analysis based on in-app behavior, purchase history, and other personalized attributes.
InMobi is known to have an innovative organizational culture and disruptive policies. Key features of their HR policy are:
'Live Your Potential’, an initiative that allows employees to work on cross-functional teams and modify their roles or business verticals, depending on their interests. The openings for any role are floated internally first in a bid to give employees the flexibility to switch roles and retain talent.
Referral rewards program – The employees are rewarded with experiences rather than monetary returns. The company provides international paid trips or tech gadgets among other forms of recognition. The introduction of this differentiated referral program saw a rise in hiring through employee referrals.
Maternity Policy – InMobi follows a phased approach that gives mothers the flexibility to ease the transition process back and achieve work-life balance. This approach entails four months of fully paid maternity leave, half-day work hours for the fifth month, and work from home for half the month during the sixth month.
Apart from these policies, InMobi has pet-friendly environments where employees are encouraged to bring their pets to work, with pets being given the designation of chief-cuddling officer. The organization also has a flexible leave policy, where employees do not need prior approvals, and programs such as Learning Avenues encourage employees to take up new courses or skills by providing them with US$800 in their e-wallets, to be spent on academia.
InMobi is also known to support entrepreneurship amongst their employees by providing free office space, access to cafeteria and by encouraging brainstorming with colleagues.
InMobi branded its culture under the name of ‘YaWiO’ to share their learnings with other start-ups. In June 2015, InMobi launched YaWiO at an event that featured a hackathon. The event called the entire workforce to spend two working days developing technologies that would address three major challenges:
- Landing an Indian rover on the Moon
- Addressing the challenge of women safety in the country
- Broadening the scope and reach of education through technology
By open-sourcing the culture, InMobi aimed to help other start-ups in the country develop an environment that would help nurture, retain and train talent while innovating across industries. The etymology of the name is from three key concepts – imagination, oneness and action:Ya – haYAl – Originates from the Turkish word Hayal, which means innovation
Wi – aWIrodhin – Originates from the Sanskrit word Awirodhin, which means not being out of harmony
O – Opus – Originates from the Latin word ‘Opus’, which means action
The company does not cap travel expenses, or have access cards and security checks when employees come in and leave work.
InMobi covers parents-in-law as part of employees’ family medical insurance. It also offers a concierge service to employees that includes even laundry.InMobi won the ‘NDTV Indian of the Year' award in 2016
InMobi was ranked 15th on the ‘World’s Top 50 Innovative Companies 2016’ by Fast Company, a US-based business magazine. InMobi was also the number one company from India on the list ranked at 15th
InMobi was featured amongst The Economic Times ‘India's best workplaces of 2016’ for workplace culture transformation. InMobi was amongst the ‘50 Disruptive companies 2013’ list by MIT Technology Review
InMobi won the bronze award in the category Enabling Technologies, Location based Advertising by Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Global Smarties Awards 2015 in partnership with Unilever and Mindshare
According to sources, InMobi laid off approximately 10 per cent of its workforce in April 2016, due to the company reeling under losses of US$45.5 million in 2014-15 and US$40.91 million in 2015-16 in a bid to show profitability. The company also saw major attrition in their senior management during this phase.
InMobi has refuted the claims, by stating that they added 184 full employees in 2016 and their voluntary attrition rates are lower than the industry average with 80% of the executive team at InMobi has an average tenure of more than four years.