Online advertising platform startup Taykey officially launched out of stealth mode Thursday with the announcement of a $9 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital.
The round serves as the two-year-old company’s series B funding and brings Taykey’s total investment to $11 million. The funds will be used to double the company’s staff in Tel Aviv and New York City and further build out its product and client base, co-founder and CEO Amit Avner told me in an interview this week.
Taykey was born out of a Q&A search engine startup Avner founded in mid-2008. By early 2009, he realized that one particular technology built for the Q&A site could probably stand on its own. “We’d made an algorithm that was able to forecast trends based on what people asked,” Avner, 25, told me. “We started to realize we could potentially make money by selling ads based on those trends that we saw.”
By May 2009, Avner had ditched the search engine idea and incorporated Taykey as its own ad platform company. Taykey has since filed 10 patents for its technology, which scans websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Myspace and Google (s GOOG) and suggests how brands should advertise to their users based on what their online behavior is likely to be in the near future.
Taykey has taken off because it helps advertisers address how people really interact with media and products, which is “in vast flocks not determined by age and gender, but by interests,” Avner says. Today, Taykey has contracts with a number of paying Fortune 100 clients such as PepsiCo (s PEP), and the company’s backers now include Sequoia Capital, Softbank Capital and Crescent Point. Avner declined to say how much revenue Taykey was generating.
When asked how Taykey expects to provide a return to its venture capital investors, Avner acknowledged that the company could be an attractive buy for the usual online advertising and social media suspects such as Google, Microsoft (s MSFT), Twitter and Facebook. But he stressed his belief that Taykey has the bones to make it as a large independent company.
“We don’t think this is a $100 million company, we think it’s a $1 billion company,” he said. “We trust our technology. We’re really good at forecasting things early and placing ads in front of the right people at the right time.” If it all works as well as he says it does, Taykey could indeed have something really valuable on its hands.