Quite a bit has happened in the ad industry over the past five years with the rise of mobile, MCNs and social monetization - and Colorado’s adtech companies like SpotXchange and Trueffect have been quick to match the industry’s pace. Denver's own adtech company Altitude Digital has made some tremendous strides since it was founded five years ago. In 2009, CEO and founder Jeremy Ostermiller “naively got into the business” and then brought on his brother-in-law and COO Devin Yeager to become the enterprise solution for publishers.
Today, Altitude Digital has grown to about 60 employees in five markets with 30,000 publishers and 1,600 clients using the marketplace for video and online display advertising.
But one thing has remained the same: “The only thing constant in this industry is change, everyday coming to work is like a hurricane,” Ostermiller said.
The wind of change currently sweeping the industry is leaving so much market opportunity up for grabs in 2014, the year experts are calling the 'year of mobile'.”Mobile ads nearly passed up TV ads last quarter, which is huge for the ad industry," Ostermiller said. Globally, mobile also reigns supreme: more than 90 percent of people worldwide have access to mobile coverage with only 36 percent have internet access.
Two of Altitude Digital's newest products are helping to keep up the company ahead of the curve: Access Campaign Delivery Platform streamlines managed online media planning and buying while Apex Video Player helps monetize video content.
These product innovations have been brought to market thanks to a $5 million round from investors like Mercato Partners and Silicon Valley Bank last year: “Our VCs have been instrumental in helping us grow as a company, recruit talent and also very helping on the strategy side. Outside of having a mentor, it’s important to have backers that understand the landscape.”
Because Altitude Digital has been profitable since beginning and reinvested every dollar made while bootstrapping for two years, they were a bit picky with their VCs. They spent a year in the process.
“Whats more important than the money is the people behind the money,” Ostermiller said. “Our VCs are supportive of the management team and our style.”
As they grow their team to over 100 people next year across their San Francisco, Los Angeles, Utah, Denver and New York offices, Altitude Digital’s management style is adjusting accordingly: “When you break the 50-person count, there are growing pains. When you grow, you get executive-heavy and a little more corporate. So that when you grow to 200 you have a strong base.”
Working against that corporate management influence though is Altitude Digital’s startup culture of loose work hours, monthly company outings and music-centric office decor (as complemented by mountain views from the game room and rooftop). The team is involved in giving back to local Colorado musicians and even goes to Red Rocks together each summer for a concert.
“Make sure you hire the right people,” Ostermiller said. “Trust is huge. If there is a trustworthy person, who has those connections and the industry knowhow, value is immense.”
In its offices on the coasts, Altitude Digital is able to compete in the hiring frenzy by spreading its company culture and its vision to optimize revenue for publishers: "You have to stand out, make them believe in your company and what you're doing."