Vistar Media, with Invite Media vets as founders and a Philly presence, gets $1.5 million seed funding

Tom Paine

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Vistar Media, a New York-based (according to its website) startup with a Philadelphia office, announced this week it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Valhalla Partners, with participation from Mercury Fund and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Ben Franklin's investment had already been announced late last year.

Vistar Media's founders, Michael Provenzano and Mark Chadwick, were key members of the team that built real-time bidding (RTB) platform Invite Media (Provenzano a co-founder), the Philly/New York-based startup acquired by Google for a reported $80 million in 2010. They want to bring the same technology to the out of home digital advertising market, including TVs and all kinds of video and digital displays and signage not located in the home.

Although the company has a Philadelphia presence, its unusual to see Ben Franklin back a startup not headquartered in Pennsylvania. Its Philly office seems to be mostly focused on engineering, while New York is more focused on the client side, the same type of split that Invite Media and other adtech firms such as Solve Media evolved to. Of six open positions currently listed on Vistar's website, four are client-facing jobs located in New York,and the other two are engineering jobs of which one is based in Philadelphia and the other is optional between New York and Philly.

Vistar has built out the bidding platform and already has a substantial inventory of impressions and unique locations, according to TechCrunch, and has been working with some initial beta customers.

The out of home digital signage and display market is boooming, from what I've seen in following the industry (including West Chester-based Scala), so the opportunity to help monetize and target the advertising opportunities in that market certainly exists.

Update: A spokesperson for Vistar Media confirms that Engineering is based in Philly, but
doesn't think the company has fully determined its headcount plans here yet. The spokesperson also wanted to clarify that its out of home TV advertising plans doesn't include normal over the air or cable stations, but only Internet-connected screens on which digital advertising can be inserted.


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