Venice’s System1 Raises $270 Million


Venice advertising technology firm System1 announced on Monday that it had completed a $270 million financing round led by New York-based Court Square Capital Partners.

The company, which was founded in 2013, was formerly known as OpenMail. It advertises itself as the world’s largest independent marketplace for keyword pay-per-click advertising. The startup plans to accelerate product development and finance hiring in Southern California with its recent infusion of cash.

System1 uses statistical and machine-learning models to group consumers into thousands of audience profiles, which then are used to match those consumers with relevant advertising, said Chuck Ursini, chief executive of the firm, in an email.

“A search engine typically determines consumer intent when a consumer enters a search term into a search box. However, less than 5 percent of time online is spent searching at a search engine,” Ursini said. “Our pre-targeting algorithms work by identifying consumer intent the other 95 percent of the time online.”

Google’s AdWords is one of the most well-known forms of intent-based advertising. That platform allows advertisers to bid on ads that appear in front of users when they search certain words or phrases.

However, System1 gleans user intent from online behavior on “a wide variety of places like sports, news and entertainment web sites, video-centric sites like YouTube and Netflix, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc.,” said Ursini

The firm received an undisclosed amount of investment from New York’s Raine Group and its founding team prior to this funding round. It has about 190 employees, according to its website. System1 purchased search engine InfoSpace for $45 million in cash last year.

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