Internet infrastructure in Q3: a dip in deal volume

Contact: Ben Kolada

In the just-closed quarter, we noticed a slight dip in the number of announced deals. In fact, the deal volume has continued its slide ever since the industry hit its peak in the first quarter of 2010. That’s not to say that our readers should make like Equinix’s investors and run for the exit. True, deal volume did slide downward, but the brand names of the Internet infrastructure industry continued to make long-term investments.

The total number of transactions announced in the third quarter declined 13.5% from the second quarter and 27.3% from the first quarter of the year. However, we must note that Q1 deal volume was, in fact, artificially inflated somewhat as some deals that were put on hold during the worst part of the recession in 2009 were finally closed in Q4 2009 and the beginning of 2010 due to renewed optimism in the economy and the ability to once again access capital at reasonable rates.

Overall, the number of transactions is up year over year, with Q3 2010 yielding 23% more transactions than the year-ago period. In fact, the total number of deals announced in the first three quarters of this year has already topped the full-year total for 2009. Furthermore, well-established names in the Internet infrastructure sector, including Digital Realty Trust, Limelight Networks and TeleCity on the industry side and GI Partners, Sequoia Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe on the investment side, just to name a few, came to the table in the third quarter. We’ll take a deeper look at Q3 deal volume in a report that will be included in tonight’s Daily 451 sendout.

Recent quarterly deal flow

Period Number of transactions Percent change from previous quarter
Q1 2009 12
Q2 2009 17 42%
Q3 2009 26 53%
Q4 2009 28 8%
Q1 2010 44 57%
Q2 2010 38 -14%
Q3 2010 32 -16%

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, Tier1 Research

Reality check for mobile ad networks?

-Contact Thomas Rasmussen

Mobile advertising startup Ad Infuse received an infusion of reality last week. The vendor, which has raised $18m in venture backing, had to put itself up for sale after it was unable to secure follow-on funding this year. After being shopped around since last summer, Ad Infuse sold for scraps to UK-based mobile advertiser Velti. We estimate that Velti paid less than $1m for Ad Infuse, which we understand generated just $1.3m in revenue in 2008.

The distressed sale of Ad Infuse comes on the heels of SmartReply’s tiny all-equity purchase of mSnap, as well as several deals involving other niche advertising networks this year. Where does this leave the remaining mobile ad networks that we were bullish on last year as the logical next step of growth for online ad startups?

We suspect there is more VC portfolio cleanout coming, since there are still too many mobile ad startups. That’s not to say there aren’t a few firms that haven’t had some success. For instance, three-year-old mobile ad network AdMob, which has successfully ridden the coattails of Apple’s iPhone AppStore’s rise by providing a way for iPhone developers to monetize their users through ads, is currently at an estimated $30m run-rate. (AdMob has raised nearly $50m to date from Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Northgate Capital.) And on a smaller scale, AdMarvel is just getting started with what we can best describe as a mobile version of the popular video ad startup It has raised just $8m to date and is in the process of closing a $10m follow-on round, something its competitor Ad Infuse was unable to accomplish.

Much like what we anticipate will eventually happen in the online video ad space, there will soon come a time when ad giants such as Google and Yahoo will have to buy their way into the mobile sector. In a rare sign of foresight, AOL is the only media behemoth with a sizable presence in the mobile ad vertical following its $105m acquisition of Third Screen Media in 2007.