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Softbank bets $US200m on mobile ad network

InMobi scores biggest VC deal of the year

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The world’s largest indie mobile advertising network InMobi has received a $US200 million cash infusion from Japan’s Softbank.

The transaction represents one of the biggest venture capital deals of the year and eclipses all mobile VC investments. InMobi, which launched in 2007, claims it can currently serve ads on 340 million mobile phones in 165 countries.

The deal will be split in two payments of $US100 million each, one this month and the other in April 2012.

InMobi says it will remain fully independent in its expansion phase. The investment will be used to fund R&D and acquisition in addition to expanding operations and hiring more staff in North America, China, Korea and Europe. InMobi currently employs 350 people in offices across 15 countries.

In August, InMobi acquired mobile media builder Sprout and has launched a new mobile payments product called SmartPay to rival Google Wallet.

“The size of the investment and quality of investor validate the enormous potential in mobile today and strengthen our role in helping the industry evolve. With a global leader like Softbank behind us, we are now well positioned to fully capitalize on the opportunity before us through substantially increased product innovation, deeper market penetration, and acquisitions across the mobile ad value chain,” said Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of InMobi.

Softbank joins existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures.

Global mobile ad spending is forecast to hit $US20.6 billion by 2015, up from $US1.6 billion last year, according to Gartner, with the Asia-Pacific and Japan expected drive spending. ®

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