KPCB-backed company receives $200m

Japanese conglomerate Softbank has committed to investing $200m in mobile advertiser InMobi in a deal reports say is among the largest to take place in the sector so far.

InMobi, a mobile advertising company backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Sherpalo Ventures, will receive $200 million from Japanese conglomerate Softbank in two $100 million tranches.

With offices in London, San Francisco, Bangalore, Tokyo, Nairobi and Singapore, InMobi is one of the world's largest independent mobile advertising networks. It raised a total of $15.6 million in three rounds of funding from venture capital firms KPCB and Sherpalo. In 2007, it raised $500,000, followed by $7.1 million in 2008 and $8 million last year.

The investment is reportedly among the biggest to ever take place in the relatively young mobile advertising industry. KPCB managing partner John Doerr called the sector “explosive” while Ram Shriram, founder of Sherpalo, said the investment was a strong validation of the mobile opportunity across the globe, according to a statement.

The mobile advertising market in the Asia Pacific is estimated to be worth $2.8 billion by the end of 2011, and countries in the region will see growth of between 32 percent and 122 percent compared to 2010, according to a whitepaper published by industry researcher Mobilesquared.

It is unclear what stakes Softbank would acquire with the investment, or from which vehicle the investment was made as Softbank could not be reached and InMobi declined to comment on shareholding structure.

It established SAIF Partners in 2001. Cisco Systems was the lone investor in the firm’s maiden $400 million fund. The team gained its independence in 2005 and raised $643 million for its second fund.

Softbank now manages the $105 million Softbank China & India’s Bodhi Fund which closed in May 2007. Softbank is the anchor investor in the fund and Cisco Systems and Deutsche Bank are the other limited partners.

Bodhi focuses on investments at the early stage and on select pre-IPO opportunities in China, India and Southeast Asia. It makes investments in sectors such as telecommunications, media and technology, and consumer-focused sectors such as healthcare and finance.

Eighteen investments have been made out of the fund thus far – six in India, seven in Greater China and five in Southeast Asia. Some of the companies in its portfolio include Infocomm Asia, a Singaporean online gaming operator; Kreeda Games India, an Indian online gaming operator; Punch Entertainment, a Vietnamese mobile games studio; Radiance Digital Entertainment, a Shanghai-based online game developer and computer graphic outsourcing company; and Sino Credit Corporation; a Chinese credit card and mortgage company.