Startup targets "social video" ads

SAN FRANCISCO (Venture Capital Journal) - If it was all about knowing the right investors when it comes to launching a startup, Dan Greenberg would certainly be at the head of the class.

Greenberg, co-founder and CEO of Sharethrough (, earlier this week announced that his startup, a provider of social video advertising services, has raised a $5 million Series A round led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Floodgate.

Greenberg, who co-founded the company with CTO Robert Fan, said North Bridge put $4 million into the funding, while Floodgate, headed up by notable angel investor Mike Maples Jr., invested the remaining $1 million.

Sharethrough, which is currently located in Yelp’s former offices in the SoMa area of San Francisco but is moving to the other side of Market Street, was launched in 2008 with $1 million in seed stage funding from Maples and other angel investors, including Ron Conway, entrepreneur and angel investor Ron Bouganim, customer development guru Steve Blank, and Rapleaf CEO Auren Hoffman.

The list of well-known investors doesn’t stop there. Sharethrough’s advisory board also includes 500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure, Lean Startup founder Eric Ries, former Adaptive Path CEO Janice Fraser, Interclick Vice President of Sales Taz Patel, Mozes CEO Dorrian Porter and Attributor CEO Jim Pitkow.

“It’s great to have so many smart people involved and able to provide feedback,” said Greenberg, who along with Fan, once taught a psychology class at Stanford University with McClure, called the Stanford Facebook Platform class.

During the class, Greenberg and Fan designed Facebook applications that ultimately grew to tens of millions of users. The class attracted more than 80 students and morphed into an on-campus incubator. Instead of holding finals, the class brought in VCs and angels to talk to students and hear pitches. It was at that time that Greenberg met Maples.

“My funding pitch was pretty basic back then,” Greenberg said. “For the Series A, I’ve learned how to make a funding pitch, include customers, feedback, growth, history, revenue. I’ve learned a lot.”

The idea behind Sharethrough, which has 15 employees and is looking to expand to 30 by mid-2011, is that no one watches ads on TV anymore. And marketers don’t just post videos online and hope for the best when it comes to racking up impressions.

Sharethrough provides a video distribution platform and network that offers advertisers a way to target their videos to an audience by taking advantage of all the sharing of videos on social media sites. The company has thus far helped to launch campaigns on behalf of Sony, Xbox, Victoria’s Secret, Nestle and LEGO, among hundreds of others, Greenberg said.

“The demand for social video advertising is growing tremendously,” said Cali Tran, a principal of North Bridge Venture Partners who has joined the Sharethrough board of directors following the Series A round. “And the company is at the forefront of leveraging social media, and more importantly, its valuable data attributes.”

Greenberg noted Sharethrough has been helped a lot by the Old Spice viral video. Although Sharethrough wasn’t involved with that particular social media campaign, Greenberg called the Old Spice campaign a watershed moment. In July, Old Spice launched the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever, garnering 6.7 million views in just 24 hours, ballooning to more than 23 million views in 36 hours, and making a star out of actor Isaiah Mustafa.

“The future of advertising is social, and social is all about sharing. We’ve shown time and again that shared video views are superior to traditional views because they fuel a much higher level of engagement with the content and the brand,” Greenberg said.