Having just announced its new holding company AnyMind Group on Thursday, the natural question for the ambitious 21-month-old startup that started as AdAsia would be on its plan to go public. Kosuke Sogo, founder and CEO, said he hopes for it to happen in the next two years, although he has indicated about an IPO plan as early as this year. “Our business is growing very well, whenever we want to go (public), we can do it,” said Sogo.
For now, the focus is on making more acquisitions, expansion to new markets and growing its new offering TalentMind, an AI-driven recruitment platform. The company said it made US$26 million last year, largely from its ad tech business. The company also secured $14.5 million for its series series A funding last year that was injected into its AI tools developed for the influencer marketing platform CastingAsia.
“In terms of operation, we are already profitable and we have enough cash, it’s not that difficult to get funding.” said Sogo, adding that he is expecting more investment this year. Organic business growth will also contribute, helped by bigger clients like All Nippon Airways whom AdAsia services in 10 markets.
Vivek Misra, VP of corporate strategy, attributed the company’s growth and expansion to 10 offices in nine countries to localisation. “If you look at Indonesia, one of our most sucessful markets, it is highly localised with its own ad tech and publisher engagement teams, it will be that way when we launch our HR product there,” said Misra.
As for acquisitions, Vivek Misra, VP of corporate strategy, said the strategy works well in areas where the company wants to build its capabilities quickly such as publisher trading desk FourM, its first purchase made last year.
“The PMI (post-merger integration) is going really well since we acquired FourM and the revenue of that company is increasing continuously. I am very confident that we can manage the companies that we acquire,” said Sogo.
Influencers and HR
However, Misra emphasised that the company prefers to go organic and build its technology from the ground up such as what it has done with CastingAsia and TalentMind. He was cautiously optimistic in his revenue targets for the HR platform that the company will monetize from licensing fees. The platform was launched first in Thailand, and will be released in stages to different markets later. However, Misra said the holding company strucutre is ideal in leveraging relationships to grow the new venture. “At this point, we want to meaningfully get traction to a certain amonunt, it’s not a big number, but we want to drive some sales into the key market,” said Misra.
Going into recruitment was a natural progression for the company to scale its AI capabilities to other industries. “For me, LinkedIn is more like a media platform and doesn’t offer a complete profile of the candidates. We see the gap in the market, and an AI solution offers a more robust way of looking for patterns and finding the right set of answers (in recruitment),” said Misra.
“We have moved away from the ad tech messaging for quite a while, CastingAsia is more about marketing solutions…we are speaking on the path of being a tech company,” he added. He pointed out that CastingAsia was a decent source of revenue, contributing 30 to 40% of the revenue in certain markets. Indonesia is one of the markets that CastingAsia is gaining traction, said Misra.
“If you break out the influencers by countries, it is directly related to the population. Indonesia can go a lot further, social media use is very high, it is also the only place where you can find HR influencers,” said Misra. That said, he saw great potential for the TalentMind product in Indonesia where a job opening can draw thousands of applications.
Russia and Middle East
Meanwhile, Sogo said the expansion into Russia will be a natural step since AdAsia has already been working with a few clients there.
“Many of the Russian companies have great technology and they are very interested in expanding to Asia. We see many opportunities to work with the publishers and advertisers in that market, and we can be their middleman to Asia,” said Sogo.
Sogo believed that setting up an office in Dubai would also be strategic to serve the Middle East market. “The size of the Arabic publisher network is getting bigger, there are a lot of opportunities for us to monetize the inventories of the Arabic publishers,” said Sogo, adding that he hopes to bring all of AnyMind Group’s offerings to the new markets.