Los Angeles Business Journal

Nativo Snags Yahoo Vet

By Natalie Jarvey Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Long Beach ad tech startup Nativo Inc. has opened a New York office to build out a sales team and has hired a Yahoo executive to head up the expansion.

Jay Freedman has left his post as vice president of sales at Yahoo and head of the technology and telecom division to become Nativo's chief revenue officer. He's the company's first full-time New York employee.

Justin Choi, Nativo's founder and chief executive, said the company was looking to bring in an executive who could help spread the word about its products to advertisers.

"Native is not at a point where we ask, 'How much do you want to buy,'" he said. "There's a lot of education that needs to happen. That's why we need someone like Jay."

Despite the need for education, native advertising has penetrated far enough into the technology and media industries that the Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to discuss establishing guidelines for the digital equivalent of advertorials.

Native advertising looks and feels like an article traditionally found on the publisher's website, but is actually a piece of branded content or a sponsored post. Nativo has designed a technology platform that allows advertisers to publish such pieces of content across several websites.

Hiring Freedman, who had been senior vice president of sales at New York's Interclick Inc. when it was acquired by Yahoo in 2011, is just part of Nativo's plan to grow its business. The company in April announced that it had raised $3.5 million in series A funding. Since then, Nativo has added three new strategic investors – Siemer Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Mesa – to increase the round to $4.6 million.

"It was really for strategic reasons," Choi said of the additional investment. "We thought they could be really helpful with both international expansion and in terms of contacts to accelerate the business."

The 22-person company is growing quickly, Choi said, and is adding to its headcount. To attract more talent, Nativo will be moving from Long Beach to a more central office in El Segundo by the end of the year.