Popular social network Pinterest is worth a reported $11 billion, but it only recently began making money through advertising. And just like when Facebook and Twitter began to monetize, a whole ecosystem of platforms and software tools has sprung up to serve Pinterest advertisers.
One such provider of software tools: Ahalogy, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based startup. Today, the company announces it has raised $8 million in venture funding and debt from Silicon Valley Bank, JobsOhio, a non-profit designed to boost local job creation, and existing investors. The company previously raised $4.8 million in venture funding.
Ahalogy provides software to more than 1000 publishers and 40 different marketers such as Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Hallmark, Kellogg’s and Pepsi, to help them manage their presence on Pinterest. To coincide with the funding, the company announced the hiring of Marc Cousineau, former director of engineering at Netflix, as Senior VP of engineering, and Chris Lobdell, formerly of adtech startup DataXu, as chief revenue officer.
Five-year-old Pinterest has been slow to introduce ads to its estimated 47.1 million monthly active users. It only recently introduced its Marketing Developer Partners program, which allows companies like Ahalogy to build deep integration into its platform.
Still, there is precedent for building a business on the back of a large social network in the manner Ahalogy has. In 2008, when brands began adopting social media, particularly Facebook, software platforms sprung up to help them manage it all. Buddy Media, Wildfire and Vitrue became the most well-known platforms. Large enterprise tech companies snapped them all up. Within a few months of each other in 2012, Buddy Media sold to Salesforce for $698 million, Wildfire sold to Google, and Vitrue sold to Oracle.
While Pinterest is an unlikely buyer for a company like Ahalogy, the company recently hired its first head of M&A. Kamran Ansari, principal at Greycroft Partners, is leading the company’s acquisition strategy. Prior to hiring Ansari last month, Pinterest has only made a small handful of acquisitions, several of which were talent buys.