PocketMath raises $10m in Series A from Rakuten

Graphic from PocketMath website

PocketMath, a Singapore-US mobile advertising startup has raised $10 million from Rakuten Ventures, the the VC arm of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. This marks the largest ever first round funding for any Singapore-based startup. It is also the biggest single investment by Rakuten Ventures till date.

The company said the Series A financing would help it bolster talent acquisition, accelerate product development, and establish a deep strategic partnership with Rakuten.

For the last three years, the company had been bootstrapped by its promoters even as it grew to a 40-member team across different geographies.

PocketMath was launched in 2011 by three friends – JD Lee, Eric Tucker and Casey Grooms – who had met while students at the University of Texas at Austin, where they ran a student organisation that promoted technology entrepreneurship. The friendship grew into a partnership years later.

PocketMath is, collectively, their eighth – and most successful – startup attempt. Even with years of prior startup experience, the founders did not see success right away. PocketMath stumbled into mobile advertising only after experimenting with a variety of other ideas, including a foray into a facial recognition advertising service that was inspired by the Hollywood movie, “Minority Report”.

The company is headquartered in Singapore, with additional offices in San Francisco, Washington DC, Mumbai, and Sydney and also has a burgeoning presence in China and Japan.

Post the financing round, the managing partner of Rakuten Ventures, SaeMin Ahn, will join the PocketMath’s board alongside the founders JD Lee, Eric Tucker and Casey Grooms.

The company claims to be the world’s largest self-serve platform for buying mobile advertising programmatically, and has said that that since the release of its platform in early 2013, the latter had achieved an eight-digit revenue, by helping hundreds of businesses around the world execute highly targeted marketing campaigns that connect them to their ideal audiences.

PocketMath is doubling its efforts to showcase the highly accessible advertising with the right tools. “Our vision is to take what we’ve built for the big brands and make it available to everyone,” said JD Lee, co-founder and CEO of PocketMath. “People don’t want to understand jargon, they want to see results.”

“We got our start by making our platform dead simple for advertisers,” said Casey Grooms, co-founder and CRO of PocketMath. “You can really see our clients’ eyes pop when you click a few buttons and they get to see their ad, on their phone, just seconds later!”

“Our team consists overwhelmingly of scientists and engineers,” said Eric Tucker, co-founder and COO. “We’ve built up a lot of tech expertise so that our partners and clients don’t have to. That sets us apart.”

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.