ttd-10k_20171231.htm

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                  to                 

Commission File Number 001-37879

 

THE TRADE DESK, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

27-1887399

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

42 N. Chestnut Street

Ventura, California 93001

(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

(805) 585-3434

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

  

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, par value $0.000001 per share

  

NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

(NASDAQ Global Market)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  (Do not check if a small reporting company)

  

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.   

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes     No  

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2017, based on the closing sales price for the Registrant’s Class A common stock, as reported on the NASDAQ Global Market, was approximately $1,543,997,839. As of January 31, 2018, there were 32,695,082 shares of the registrant’s Class A common stock outstanding and 9,155,054 shares of the registrant’s Class B common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s Proxy Statement for the 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. Such proxy statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2017.

 

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

THE TRADE DESK, INC.

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2017

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

Special Note About Forward-Looking Statements

 

3

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

4

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

12

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

31

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

32

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

32

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

32

 

 

 

 

Part II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

33

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

35

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

37

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

51

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

52

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

78

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

78

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

79

 

 

 

 

Part III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

80

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

80

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

80

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

80

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

80

 

 

 

 

Part IV

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

81

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

82

 

 

 

 

Signatures 

 

83

 

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SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or our future financial or operating performance and may include statements concerning, among other things, our business strategy (including anticipated trends and developments in, and management plans for, our business and the markets in which we operate), financial results, operating results, revenues, operating expenses, and capital expenditures, sales and marketing initiatives and competition. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “suggests,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations, strategy, plans or intentions. These statements are not guarantees of future performance; they reflect our current views with respect to future events and are based on assumptions and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from expectations or results projected or implied by forward-looking statements.

We discuss many of these risks in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K in greater detail under the heading “Risk Factors” and in other filings we make from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Also, these forward-looking statements represent our estimates and assumptions only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which are inherently subject to change and involve risks and uncertainties. Unless required by federal securities laws, we assume no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated, to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the statements are made. Given these uncertainties, investors should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

Investors should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we reference in this report and have filed with the SEC completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

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PART I

Item 1. Business

Overview

 

We are a global technology company that empowers ad buyers by providing a self-service omnichannel software platform that enables our clients to purchase and manage data-driven digital advertising campaigns. Our platform allows clients to manage integrated advertising campaigns across various advertising channels and formats, including connected TV (CTV), mobile, video, audio, display, social and native, on a multitude of devices, including smart TVs, computers, and various mobile devices including phones and tablets.

 

We commercially launched our platform in 2011 targeting display advertising. We have since extended our platform to address additional advertising formats, and in 2017, approximately 62% of gross spend on our platform was for mobile, video, audio, social, and native.

 

Our clients are the advertising agencies and other service providers for advertisers, with whom we enter into ongoing master services agreements, or MSAs. We generate revenue by charging our clients a platform fee based on a percentage of a client’s total spend on advertising, data and other features through our platform.

The Trade Desk, Inc. is a Delaware corporation established in 2009, headquartered in Ventura, California.

Our Industry

We believe that several trends in the advertising industry, happening in parallel, are driving a shift to programmatic advertising – the selling and buying of advertising inventory electronically.

Some of the key industry trends are:

Media is Becoming Digital. Media is increasingly becoming digital as a result of advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior. This shift has enabled unprecedented options for advertisers to target and measure their advertising campaigns across nearly every media channel and device. The digital advertising market is a significant and growing part of the total advertising market. According to International Data Corporation, or IDC, global advertising spend was estimated to be approximately $672 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $764 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 3.3%. Also, according to IDC, global digital advertising spend was $229 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $360 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 11.9%. We believe that the market is evolving and that advertisers will shift more spend to digital media. Since media is becoming increasingly digital, decisions based on consumer and behavioral data are more prevalent.

Fragmentation of Audience. As digital media grows, audience fragmentation is accelerating. A growing “long tail” of websites and content presents a challenge for advertisers trying to reach a large audience. Audience fragmentation has substantially impacted TV content distribution, perhaps more than any other channel, which we believe is setting up a significant change in how TV advertising inventory is monetized. Mirroring the fragmentation occurring in content, the number of devices used by individual consumers has increased. Both of these fragmentation trends are opportunities for technology companies that can consolidate and simplify media buying options for advertisers and their agencies.

Increased Use of Data. Advances in software and hardware and the growing use of the Internet have made it possible to collect and rapidly process massive amounts of user data. Data vendors are able to collect user information across a wide range of Internet properties and connected devices, aggregate it and combine it with other data sources. This data is then made non-identifiable and available within seconds based on specific parameters and attributes. Advertisers can integrate this targeting data with their own or an agency’s proprietary data relating to client attributes, the advertisers’ own store locations and other related characteristics. Through the use of these data sources, together with real-time feedback on consumer reactions to the ads, programmatic advertising increases the value of impressions for advertisers, inventory owners and viewers who receive more relevant ads.

Automation of Ad Buying. The growing complexity of digital advertising has increased the need for automation. Technology that enables fast, accurate and cost-effective decision-making through the application of computer algorithms that use extensive data sets has become critical for the success of digital advertising campaigns. Using programmatic inventory buying tools, advertisers are able to automate their campaigns, providing them with better price discovery, on an impression-by-impression basis. As a result, advertisers are able to bid and purchase the advertising inventory they value the most, pay less for advertising inventory they do not value as much, and abstain from buying advertising inventory that does not fit their campaign parameters.

 

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Digital Advertising Eco-System

The digital advertising eco-system is divided into buyers, sellers and marketplaces, which can be further segmented on the basis of whether participants provide services or technology. We believe that participants on the buy-side or sell-side should be advocates for their buyers or sellers, while those in the market business should act as a referee or have market-driven incentives to protect or enhance the integrity of the marketplace. We believe that there are inherent conflicts of interest when market participants serve both buyers and sellers.

What We Do

We empower ad buyers, by providing a self‑service omnichannel software platform that enables our clients to purchase and manage data‑driven digital advertising campaigns. Our platform allows clients to manage integrated advertising campaigns across various advertising channels and formats, including CTV, mobile, video, audio, display, social and native, on a multitude of devices, including smart TVs, computers, and various mobile devices including phones and tablets.

 

We Are Exclusively Focused on the Buy-Side. We focus on buyers since they control the advertising budgets. Also, the supply of digital advertising inventory exceeds demand, and accordingly, we believe it is a buyer’s market. We also believe that by aligning our business only with buyers, we are able to avoid inherent conflicts of interest that exist when serving both the buy-side and sell-side. This focus allows us to build trust with clients, many of whom incorporate their proprietary data into our platform. That trust and ability to use their own data on our platform, without worrying about it being used by other participants, enables our clients and their advertisers to achieve better results. This trust provides us the benefit of long-term and stable relationships with our clients.

 

We Are an Enabler, Not a Disruptor. With our platform, we enable advertising agencies and service providers. We generally do not compete with advertising agencies and refrain from directly serving advertisers who have a relationship with one of our advertising clients. Advertisers can benefit from a comprehensive solution that combines our platform with the services provided by advertising agencies.

 

We Are Data-Driven. Our platform was founded on the principle that data-driven decisions will be the future of advertising. We built a data management platform first, before building our ad buying technology. While data from disparate third-party data providers can improve campaign performance, our clients’ success often relies largely on our ability to ingest proprietary data directly from brands and their agencies to enable intelligent decisioning that optimizes advertising campaigns. Given our independent, buy-side focused approach, and our strict protocol of carefully earmarking all client first-party data we ingest onto our data management platform, our clients trust us with their most granular and expressive data. Our technology platform enables the effective use of this granular data, which allows our clients to run more effective and precisely targeted advertising campaigns that maximize their return on advertising investments. Additionally, we are able to better optimize campaigns by using the data streams that we capture across different devices, so that data from one channel can be used to inform another. The breadth of data that we collect from a multitude of data sources across channels gives our clients a holistic view of their target audiences, enabling more effective targeting across different channels.

 

We Do Not Arbitrage Advertising Inventory. To further align our interests with those of our clients, we do not buy advertising inventory in order to resell it to our clients for a profit. Instead, we provide our clients with a platform that allows them to manage their omnichannel advertising campaigns, on a self-serve basis with full reporting transparency. With our platform, our clients control their campaign spend and are able to access and choose from many inventory sources.

 

We Have Ongoing Relationships with Clients. We derive substantially all of our revenue from ongoing MSAs with our clients rather than episodic insertion orders. We believe that this approach helps us strengthen our relationships with our clients and grow their use of our platform over the long term, providing us with a highly scalable business model.

 

We Are a Clear Box, Not a Black Box. Our platform is transparent and shows our clients their costs of advertising inventory, data, our platform fee and detailed performance metrics on their advertising campaigns. Our clients directly access and execute campaigns on our platform, control all facets of inventory purchasing decisions, and receive detailed, real-time reporting on all their advertising campaigns. By providing transparent information on our platform, our clients are able to continually compare results and target their budgets to the most effective advertising inventory, data providers and channels.

 

We Are an Open Platform. Clients can customize and build their own features on top of our platform. Clients may use our application programming interfaces, or APIs, to, for example, design their own user interface, bulk manage advertising campaigns, and link other systems including ad servers or reporting tools. As of December 31, 2017, all of our top 10 clients used our APIs and nearly half of our clients have customized our APIs. Using our APIs or by working with our engineering team, clients invest their own resources to build their own proprietary tools in areas including reporting, campaign strategy, custom algorithms or proprietary data use cases. Our open platform approach enables our advertising agency and service provider clients to provide differentiated offerings to their clients, which we believe leads to long-term relationships and increased use of our platform.

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Our Platform

Our platform enables a media planner or buyer at an advertising agency to:

 

purchase digital media programmatically on various media exchanges and sell-side platforms;

 

acquire and use third-party data to optimize and measure digital advertising campaigns;

 

integrate and deploy their proprietary first-party data with our platform in order to optimize campaign efficacy;

 

monitor and manage ongoing digital advertising campaigns on a real-time basis;

 

link digital campaigns to offline sales results or other business objectives;

 

access other services such as our data management platform and publisher management platform marketplace; and

 

use our user interface and APIs to build their own proprietary technology on top of our platform.

At the core of our platform is our bid-factor based architecture, which we believe has advantages over line-item based architectures that other buy-side systems use. Our bid-factor based system allows users to define desirable factors and the value associated with those factors. Based on these factors, our platform can compute in real-time the value of impressions and bid only for optimal impressions. Because of the granularity of the bid factors, users of our platform can rapidly create billions of different bid permutations with only a few clicks. This expressiveness enables better targeting, pricing and campaign results.

Our platform is useful and user-friendly based on the following:

 

Easy to Use, Open and Customizable. Our platform provides multiple, easy-to-use automation tools that help our users focus on managing the key factors affecting their campaigns. Our platform also enables clients to integrate custom features and interfaces for their own use through our APIs.

 

Expressive. Our platform allows clients to easily define and manage advertising campaigns with multiple targeting parameters that may result in quadrillions of permutations, which we refer to as expressiveness. We believe that expressiveness provides clients with the ability to target audiences with an extremely high level of precision and thus obtain higher returns on their advertising spend.

 

Integrated, Omnichannel and Cross-device. Our platform provides integrated access to a wide range of omnichannel inventory and data sources, as well as third-party services such as ad servers, ad verification services and survey vendors. Our platform’s integration of these sources and services enables our clients to deploy their budgets through a wide variety of channels, media screens and formats, targeted in their desired manner, through a single platform.

Some of the key features of our platform are:

 

Auto-Optimization. We provide auto-optimization features which allow buyers to automate their campaigns and support them with computer generated modeling and decision making. In addition, by giving clients full reporting, budgeting, and bidding transparency, clients can take control of targeting variables when desired, and apply algorithmic automation when appropriate.

 

Advanced Reporting and Analytics Tools. We provide a comprehensive view of consumers’ interactions with the ads purchased through our platform with robust reporting of performance insights across multiple variables, such as audience characteristics, ad format, site category, website, device, creative type, and geography. Better reporting results in better learning, often leading to better campaign optimization and outcomes.

 

Data Management. Our platform enables clients to license a broad selection of data from third-party vendors in a seamless and easy manner, allowing them to further optimize their campaigns with the most relevant data.

 

Private Marketplace Support. For clients who wish to transact directly with individual publishers, we offer a comprehensive user interface for discovering and transacting via a wide variety of private pricing contracts. Additionally, we offer direct tags that advertisers can use when they negotiate deals with publishers through advertising agencies.

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Our Technology

The core elements of our technology are:

 

Scalable Architecture. Our platform infrastructure is hosted in 13 data centers. On average, our real-time bidding technology evaluates more than 580 billion ad opportunities per day, reaching over 430 million devices per day on a global basis. Our core bidding architecture is easily adaptable to a variety of inventory formats, allowing our platform to communicate with many different inventory sources.

 

Predictive Models. We use the massive data captured by our platform to build predictive models around user characteristics, such as demographic, purchase intent or interest data. Data from our platform is continually fed back into these models, which enables them to improve over time as the use of our platform increases.

 

Performance Optimization. During campaign execution, our optimization engine continually scores a variety of attributes of each impression, such as website, industry vertical or geography, for their likelihood to achieve campaign performance goals. Our bidding engine then shifts bids and budgets in real-time to deliver optimal performance. Additionally, our platform enables clients to set multiple, simultaneous optimization goals for their advertising.

 

Real-time Analytics. Our platform continuously collects data regarding inventory availability. Real-time campaign delivery and spend totals are used to manage campaign budgets and goal caps, as well as campaign reporting. This data is fed back into our optimization engine to improve campaign performance, and into machine-learning models for user demographic predictive modeling.

Our Growth Strategy

The key elements of our long-term growth strategy include:

 

Increase Our Share of Existing Clients’ Digital Advertising Spend. Many advertisers are moving a greater percentage of their advertising budgets to programmatic channels. We believe that this shift will provide us with the opportunity to capture a larger share of the overall advertising spend by our existing clients. Additionally, we plan to promote additional services and data to our clients, helping us grow our business.

 

Grow Our Client Base. We have extensive relationships with many advertising agencies and service providers, and believe that, given the decentralized nature of the advertising industry, we have the opportunity to expand our relationships within these agencies and with additional agencies and service providers. We expect to continue making investments in growing our sales and client service team to support this strategy.

 

Expand Our Omnichannel Capabilities. We believe offering clients capabilities across all media channels and devices enables advertisers to manage omnichannel campaigns and use data from each channel to inform decisions in other channels. We believe these capabilities will continue to further strengthen our relationships with our clients. We intend to continue to invest in innovation across all channels, including the integration of new inventory sources within CTV, digital radio, social and native.

 

Extend Our Reach in CTV. Television is the largest category of advertising spend, and we believe that the future of television is in streaming media and video on demand through subscription services and connected devices. We plan to invest significant resources in technology, sales and support staff related to our CTV growth initiatives.

 

Continue to Innovate in Technology and Data. We intend to continue to innovate in technology to improve our platform and enhance its features and functionalities. We view data as one of our key competitive advantages. We will continue to invest resources in growing our data offerings, both from third-party providers as well as our proprietary data.

 

Expand Our International Presence. Many of our clients serve advertisers on a global basis and we intend to expand our presence outside of the United States, or U.S., to serve the needs of those advertisers in additional geographies. As we expand relationships with our existing clients, we are investing in select regions in Europe and Asia. In particular, we believe that China and Indonesia may represent substantial growth opportunities, and we are investing in developing our business in those markets.

Our Clients

Our clients consist of purchasers of programmatic advertising inventory and data. As of December 31, 2017, we had approximately 657 clients, consisting primarily of advertising agencies or groups within advertising agencies that have independent relationships with us, manage budgets independently of one-another, are based in different jurisdictions, and are served by unique Trade Desk teams. Many of these agencies are owned by holding companies, where decision-making is decentralized such that purchasing decisions are made, and relationships with advertisers are located, at the agency, local branch or division level. Our client count includes only those parties which have signed MSAs with us and have spent more than $20,000 on our platform.

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If all of our individual client contractual relationships were aggregated at the holding company level, two clients would have each represented more than 10% of our gross billings in 2015, three clients would have each represented more than 10% of our gross billings in 2016, and three clients would have each represented more than 10% of our gross billings in 2017. Our contractual and billing arrangement with Omnicom Group Inc. is at the holding company level and accounted for 12% of our gross billings in 2015, 13% in 2016 and 11% in 2017. For WPP plc and Publicis Groupe, we enter into separate contracts and billing relationships with various of its individual agencies and account for them as separate clients. We do not have any contractual relationship with the holding company WPP plc or Publicis Groupe. Mindshare, which is affiliated with WPP plc, accounted for 12% of our gross billings in 2015, 11% in 2016 and 10% in 2017. VivaKi, Inc., which is affiliated with Publicis Groupe, accounted for 15% of our gross billings in 2016 and 22% in 2017.

Our clients typically enter into MSAs with us that give users constant access to our platform. The MSAs do not contain any material commitments on behalf of clients to use our platform to purchase ad inventory, data or other features. These MSAs typically have one-year terms that renew automatically for additional one-year periods, unless earlier terminated. The MSAs are typically terminable at any time upon 60 days’ notice by either party.

Our clients are loyal, as reflected by our client retention rate of over 95% in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In addition, our clients typically grow their use of our platform over time.

Our Advertising and Data Inventory Suppliers

For suppliers of programmatic advertising inventory and data, we believe that we are an important business client, as we represent one of the largest sources of buy-side demand within the digital advertising industry.

We obtain digital advertising inventory from over 70 ad exchanges, supply-side platforms, publishers and ad networks, providing us with access to a breadth of programmatic advertising inventory across computers, smartphones, audio devices and CTV. On average each day, our platform provides our clients with access to over 580 billion ad impressions per day, reaching over 430 million devices per day on a global basis.

For third-party data vendors, we believe that we represent an important distribution channel. As of December 31, 2017, we have integrated our platform with over 135 third-party data vendors whose products we make available for purchase through our platform.

Sales and Marketing

Given our self-serve business model, we focus on supporting, advising and training our clients to use our platform independently as soon as they are ready to transact.

Once a new client has access to our platform, they work closely with our client service teams as they onboard the new client and provide continuous support throughout the early campaigns. Typically, once a client has gained some initial experience, it will move to a fully self-serve model and request support as needed.

To help train our clients, suppliers and other digital media participants, we have created an e-learning program called The Trading Academy. We believe that this initiative is an important component in our strategy of enabling rapid onboarding to our platform.

Our marketing efforts are focused on increasing awareness for our brand, executing thought-leadership initiatives, supporting our sales team and generating new leads. We seek to accomplish these objectives by presenting at industry conferences, hosting client conferences, publishing white papers and research, public relations activities, social media presence and advertising campaigns.

Technology and Development

Rapid innovation is a core driver of our business success and our corporate culture. We prioritize and align our product roadmap with our clients’ needs, and we generally refresh our platform on a weekly basis. Our development teams are intentionally lean and nimble in nature, providing for transparency and accountability.

We expect technology and development expense to increase as we continue to invest in the development of our platform to support additional features and functions, increase the number of advertising and data inventory suppliers and ramp up the volume of advertising spending on our platform. We also intend to invest in technology to further automate our business processes. Our technology development expense totaled $12.8 million in 2015, $27.3 million in 2016 and $52.8 million in 2017.

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Seasonality

In the advertising industry, companies commonly experience seasonal fluctuations in revenue. For example, many advertisers allocate the largest portion of their budgets to the fourth quarter of the calendar year in order to coincide with increased holiday purchasing. Historically, the fourth quarter of the year reflects our highest level of advertising activity and the first quarter reflects the lowest level of such activity. We expect our revenue to continue to fluctuate based on seasonal factors that affect the advertising industry as a whole.

Our Competition

Our industry is highly competitive and fragmented. We compete with other demand-side platform providers which are mostly smaller, privately-held companies, but we also compete with divisions of large, well-established companies such as Google and Adobe. We believe that we compete primarily based on the performance, capabilities and transparency of our platform and our focus on the buy-side. We generally do not compete with advertising agencies and refrain from directly serving advertisers who have a relationship with one of our advertising agency clients. We believe that we are differentiated from our competitors in the following areas:

 

we are an independent technology company exclusively focused on serving advertising agencies and the buy-side of our industry;

 

our client relationships are based on master service agreements as opposed to campaign-specific insertion orders;

 

our platform provides comprehensive access to a wide range of inventory types and third-party data vendors;

 

our platform allows clients to build proprietary advantages by integrating custom features and interfaces for their own use through our APIs; and

 

our technology provides highly expressive targeting.

In addition, we believe that new entrants would find it difficult to gain direct access to inventory providers, given their limited scale and the costs that additional integrations impose on inventory providers.

Our Employees and Culture

We have employees and offices around the world to serve advertisers’ desire to communicate with consumers worldwide.

Our business and our culture is anchored on four core principles:

 

No company can effect global change without passionate forward‑thinking people as both employees and clients.

 

By preserving an honest and transparent culture and avoiding client conflict, we can exert exponentially less effort to grow our business.

 

We have committed to our clients and employees that we will never stop innovating.

 

Being profitable and changing the world can co‑exist and is more likely to happen when striving for both simultaneously.

We believe we attract talented employees to our company and sophisticated ad buyers to our platform in large part because of our vision and unwavering commitment to empower the buy‑side of advertising.

As of December 31, 2017, we had 713 employees, of whom 502 are in the U.S. Our team draws from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences, across technology, advertising and securities trading and other areas. We foster an entrepreneurial culture so that we may remain focused and innovative over time, as we strive to serve our clients with openness, transparency and humility.

Development of International Markets

We have been increasing our focus on markets outside the U.S. to serve the global needs of our clients. We believe that the global opportunity for programmatic advertising is significant, and should continue to expand as publishers and advertisers outside the U.S. seek to adopt the benefits that programmatic advertising provides. To capitalize on this opportunity, we intend to continue investing in our presence internationally, and we expect our growth internationally to continue outpacing our domestic growth. Our growth and the success of our initiatives in newer markets will depend on the continued adoption of our platform by our existing clients, as well as new clients, in these markets. Information about our geographic gross billings is set forth in Note 12 of “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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Intellectual Property

The protection of our technology and intellectual property is an important component of our success. We rely on intellectual property laws, including trade secret, copyright and trademark laws in the U.S. and abroad, and use contracts, confidentiality procedures, non-disclosure agreements, employee disclosure and invention assignment agreements and other contractual rights to protect our intellectual property. We do not hold any patents because we believe our proprietary technology is best protected by keeping our technology architecture, trade secrets, and engineering roadmap private. We believe our platform is difficult to replicate and would be expensive to build. We also believe that a critical protection in digital advertising technology is the ability to execute and deliver new functionality quickly, and are continually developing new intellectual property as we innovate.

Privacy and Data Protection Legislation and Regulation

Privacy and data protection legislation and regulation play a significant role in our business. We and our clients use pseudonymous and anonymous data about Internet users on our platform to manage and execute digital advertising campaigns in a variety of ways, including delivering advertisements to Internet users based on their geographic locations, the type of device they are using, or their interests as inferred from their web browsing or app usage activity, or that clients infer from their relationships with users. We do not use this data to identify specific individuals, and we do not seek to associate this data with information that can be used to identify specific individuals. We take steps not to collect or store personally identifiable information – information that directly identifies individuals – from any source. The definition of what data is personal or identifiable, however, varies by jurisdiction and continues to evolve. As a result, our platform and business practices must be assessed regularly in each jurisdiction where we do business to avoid violating applicable legislation and regulation.

Our ability, like those of other advertising technology companies, to collect, augment, analyze, use and share data collected through cookies and similar technologies is governed by U.S. and foreign laws and regulations which change from time to time, such as those regulating the level of consumer notice and consent required before a company can employ cookies or other electronic tools to collect data about interactions with users online. In the United States, both state and federal legislation govern activities such as the collection and use of data, and privacy in the advertising technology industry has frequently been subject to review by the Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, U.S. Congress, and individual states. Much of the federal oversight on digital advertising in the United States has come from the FTC, which has primarily relied upon Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits companies from engaging in “unfair” or “deceptive” trade practices, including alleged violations of representations concerning privacy protections and acts that allegedly violate individuals’ privacy interests.

As our business is global, our activities are also subject to foreign legislation and regulation. In the European Union (including the European Economic Area, or EEA, countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or EU, separate laws and regulations (and member states’ implementations thereof) govern the protection of consumers and of electronic communications, and these laws and regulations continue to evolve. The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which was adopted by the EU in 2016 and becomes effective May 25, 2018, will generally harmonize data privacy laws across EU countries. The GDPR creates new regulations relating to the collection and use of data typically leveraged on our platform and by others in the digital advertising industry, including IP addresses, cookie identifiers, and device identifiers for advertising purposes, and enhances data protection obligations for controllers of personal data and service providers processing personal data. These enhancements will bring about significant changes in the way the advertising technology industry operates in the EU. Preparing to meet the GDPR’s requirements before it becomes effective, and maintaining compliance with the GDPR thereafter, will require significant time, resources and expense, and significant changes in our business operations.

Additionally in the EU, EU Directive 2002/58/EC (as amended by Directive 2009/136/EC), commonly referred to as the Cookie Directive, directs EU member states to ensure that accessing information on an Internet user’s computer, such as through a cookie and other similar technologies, is allowed only if the Internet user has been informed about such access, and provided consent. A replacement for the Cookie Directive is currently under discussion by EU member states to complement and bring electronic communication services in line with the GDPR and force a harmonized approach across EU member states. Although it remains under debate, recent drafts of the new ePrivacy Regulation would extend the strict opt-in marketing rules with limited exceptions to business-to-business communications, alter rules on third-party cookies, web beacons and similar technology, and significantly increase penalties for non-compliance. We cannot yet determine the impact such future laws, regulations, and standards may have on our business.

For the transfer of personal data from the EU to the U.S., we rely upon, and are currently certified under, the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks. The Privacy Shield Framework, however, is facing criticism from privacy advocates in the EU and is also subject to pending legal challenges in the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Other EU mechanisms for adequate data transfer to the U.S. such as the standard contractual clauses are also being challenged in the EU courts. These challenges to the Privacy Shield and model clauses may lead to changes in the law, governmental enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business. We may find it

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necessary to establish systems to maintain personal data originating from the EU in the EU, which may involve substantial expense and may cause us to need to divert resources from other aspects of our business.

In prior years, some government regulators and privacy advocates advocated vigorously for a “Do Not Track” standard that would allow Internet users to express a preference, independent of cookie settings in their browser, not to have their online browsing activities tracked. Efforts in this direction have largely gone dormant. However, in the EU, the Article 29 Working Party, a body made up of EU national data protection authorities, recently recommended that the proposed e-Privacy Regulation require browsers to implement technical mechanisms such as the “Do Not Track” standard to give users additional control over the collection of data about their Internet activity. We do not know whether such requirement will be included in the final e-Privacy Regulation or what effect such requirement may have on our business.

We participate in several industry self-regulatory programs, mainly initiated by the Network Advertising Initiative, or NAI, the Digital Advertising Alliance, or DAA, and their international counterparts. Under such programs, in addition to other compliance obligations, we provide consumers with notice about our use of cookies and similar technologies, and our collection and use of data in connection with the delivery of targeted advertising. We also allow consumers to opt out from the use of data we collect for the delivery of targeted advertising, and we provide consumers notice regarding how to exercise such choice. We believe that this user-centric approach to addressing consumer privacy empowers consumers to make informed decisions on the use of their data.

Available Information

We file Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, and related amendments and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. You may access and read our filings without charge through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov or through our website at http://investors.thetradedesk.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after such materials are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

Website addresses referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are not intended to function as hyperlinks, and the information contained on our website is not incorporated into, and does not form a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any other report or documents we file with or furnish to the SEC.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider carefully the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information contained in this annual report, including the consolidated financial statements and the related notes and Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, before making investment decisions related to our Class A common stock. If any of the following risks is realized, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that event, the market price of our Class A common stock could decline and you could lose part or all of your investment.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We have a limited operating history, which makes it difficult to evaluate our business and prospects and may increase the risks associated with your investment.

We were incorporated in 2009 and, as a result, have only a limited operating history upon which our business and prospects may be evaluated. Although we have experienced substantial revenue growth in our limited operating history, we may not be able to sustain this rate of growth or maintain our current revenue levels. We have encountered and will continue to encounter risks and challenges frequently experienced by growing companies in rapidly developing industries, including risks related to our ability to:

 

build a reputation for providing a superior platform and client service, and for creating trust and long-term relationships with clients;

 

distinguish ourselves from competitors;

 

develop and offer a competitive platform that meets our clients’ needs as they change;

 

scale our business efficiently to keep pace with demand for our platform;

 

maintain and expand our relationships with suppliers of quality advertising inventory and data;

 

respond to evolving industry standards and government regulation that impact our business, particularly in the areas of data collection and consumer privacy;

 

prevent or mitigate failures or breaches of security;

 

expand our business internationally; and

 

hire and retain qualified and motivated employees.

We cannot assure you that we will be successful in addressing these and other challenges we may face in the future. If we are unable to do so, our business may suffer, our revenue and operating results may decline and we may not be able to achieve further growth or sustain profitability.

Our failure to maintain and grow our client base and spend through our platform may negatively impact our revenue and business.

To sustain or increase our revenue, we must regularly add new clients and encourage existing clients to maintain or increase the amount of advertising inventory purchased through our platform and adopt new features and functionalities that we add to our platform. If competitors introduce lower cost or differentiated offerings that compete with or are perceived to compete with ours, our ability to sell access to our platform to new or existing clients could be impaired. We have spent significant effort in cultivating our relationships with advertising agencies, which has resulted in an increase in the budgets allocated to, and the amount of advertising purchased on, our platform. However, it is possible that we may reach a point of saturation at which we cannot continue to grow our revenue from such agencies because of internal limits that advertisers may place on the allocation of their advertising budgets to digital media to a particular provider or otherwise. While we generally have master services agreements in place for our clients, such agreements allow our clients to change the amount of spend through our platform or terminate our services with limited notice. Our clients typically have relationships with different providers and there is limited cost to moving budgets to our competitors. As a result, we may have limited visibility as to our future advertising revenue streams. We cannot assure you that our clients will continue to use our platform or that we will be able to replace, in a timely or effective manner, departing clients with new clients that generate comparable revenue. If a major client representing a significant portion of our business decides to materially reduce its use of our platform or to cease using our platform altogether, it is possible that our revenue or revenue growth rate could be significantly reduced and our business negatively impacted.

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The loss of advertising agencies as clients could significantly harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our client base consists primarily of advertising agencies. We do not have exclusive relationships with advertising agencies and we depend on agencies to work with us as they embark on advertising campaigns for advertisers.

The loss of agencies as clients could significantly harm our business, operating results and financial condition. If we fail to maintain satisfactory relationships with an advertising agency, we risk losing business from the advertisers represented by that agency.

Advertisers may change advertising agencies. If an advertiser switches from an agency that utilizes our platform to one that does not, we will lose revenue from that advertiser. In addition, some advertising agencies have their own relationships with suppliers of advertising inventory and can directly connect advertisers with such suppliers. Our business may suffer to the extent that advertising agencies and inventory suppliers purchase and sell advertising inventory directly from one another or through intermediaries other than us.

We had approximately 657 clients, consisting primarily of advertising agencies, as of December 31, 2017. Many of these agencies are owned by holding companies, where decision making is decentralized such that purchasing decisions are made, and relationships with advertisers, are located, at the agency, local branch or division level. If all of our individual client contractual relationships were aggregated at the holding company level, Omnicom Group Inc., WPP plc and Publicis Groupe would each represent more than 10% of our gross billings for 2017.

In most cases, we enter into separate contracts and billing relationships with the individual agencies and account for them as separate clients. However, some holding companies for these agencies may choose to exert control over the individual agencies in the future. If so, any loss of relationships with such holding companies and, consequently, of their agencies, local branches or divisions, as clients could significantly harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

If we fail to innovate and make the right investment decisions in our offerings and platform, we may not attract and retain advertisers and advertising agencies and our revenue and results of operations may decline.

Our industry is subject to rapid and frequent changes in technology, evolving client needs and the frequent introduction by our competitors of new and enhanced offerings. We must constantly make investment decisions regarding offerings and technology to meet client demand and evolving industry standards. We may make bad decisions regarding these investments. If new or existing competitors have more attractive offerings, we may lose clients or clients may decrease their use of our platform. New client demands, superior competitive offerings or new industry standards could require us to make unanticipated and costly changes to our platform or business model. If we fail to adapt to our rapidly changing industry or to evolving client needs, demand for our platform could decrease and our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.

Failure to manage our growth effectively could cause our business to suffer and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.

We have experienced significant growth in a short period of time. To manage our growth effectively, we must continually evaluate and evolve our organization. We must also manage our employees, operations, finances, technology and development and capital investments efficiently. Our efficiency, productivity and the quality of our platform and client service may be adversely impacted if we do not train our new personnel, particularly our sales and support personnel, quickly and effectively, or if we fail to appropriately coordinate across our organization. Additionally, our rapid growth may place a strain on our resources, infrastructure and ability to maintain the quality of our platform. You should not consider our revenue growth and levels of profitability in recent periods as indicative of future performance. In future periods, our revenue or profitability could decline or grow more slowly than we expect. Failure to manage our growth effectively could cause our business to suffer and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.

The market for programmatic buying for advertising campaigns is relatively new and evolving. If this market develops slower or differently than we expect, our business, growth prospects and financial condition would be adversely affected.

The substantial majority of our revenue has been derived from clients that programmatically purchase advertising inventory through our platform. We expect that spending on programmatic ad buying will continue to be our primary source of revenue for the foreseeable future, and that our revenue growth will largely depend on increasing spend through our platform. The market for programmatic ad buying is an emerging market, and our current and potential clients may not shift as quickly as we expect to programmatic ad buying from other buying methods, reducing our growth potential. If the market for programmatic ad buying deteriorates or develops more slowly than we expect, it could reduce demand for our platform, and our business, growth prospects and financial condition would be adversely affected.

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In addition, our revenue may not necessarily grow at the same rate as spend on our platform. Growth in spend may outpace growth in our revenue as the market for programmatic buying for advertising matures due to a number of factors including quantity discounts and product, media, client and channel mix shifts. A significant change in revenue as a percentage of spend could reflect an adverse change in our business and growth prospects. In addition, any such fluctuations, even if they reflect our strategic decisions, could cause our performance to fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors, and adversely affect the price of our common stock.

The market in which we participate is intensely competitive, and we may not be able to compete successfully with our current or future competitors.

We operate in a highly competitive and rapidly changing industry. With the introduction of new technologies and the influx of new entrants to the market, we expect competition to persist and intensify in the future, which could harm our ability to increase revenue and maintain profitability. New technologies and methods of buying advertising present a dynamic competitive challenge, as market participants offer multiple new products and services, such as analytics, automated media buying and exchanges, aimed at capturing advertising spend. In addition to existing competitors and intermediaries, we may also face competition from new companies entering the market, which may include large established companies, all of which currently offer, or may in the future offer, products and services that result in additional competition for advertising spend or advertising inventory.

We may also face competition from companies that we do not yet know about or do not yet exist. If existing or new companies develop, market or resell competitive high-value marketing products or services, acquire one of our existing competitors or form a strategic alliance with one of our competitors, our ability to compete effectively could be significantly compromised and our results of operations could be harmed.

Our current and potential competitors may have significantly more financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we have, allowing them to devote greater resources to the development, promotion, sale and support of their products and services. They may also have more extensive advertiser bases and broader publisher relationships than we have, and may be better positioned to execute on advertising conducted over certain channels such as social media, mobile and video. Some of our competitors may have longer operating histories and greater name recognition. As a result, these competitors may be better able to respond quickly to new technologies, develop deeper advertiser relationships or offer services at lower prices. Any of these developments would make it more difficult for us to sell our platform and could result in increased pricing pressure, increased sales and marketing expense or the loss of market share.

Economic downturns and market conditions beyond our control could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

Our business depends on the overall demand for advertising and on the economic health of advertisers that benefit from our platform. Economic downturns or unstable market conditions may cause advertisers to decrease their advertising budgets, which could reduce spend though our platform and adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. As we explore new countries to expand our business, economic downturns or unstable market conditions in any of those countries could result in our investments not yielding the returns we anticipate.

We may experience fluctuations in our operating results, which could make our future operating results difficult to predict or cause our operating results to fall below analysts’ and investors’ expectations.

Our quarterly and annual operating results have fluctuated in the past and we expect our future operating results to fluctuate due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Fluctuations in our operating results could cause our performance to fall below the expectations of analysts and investors, and adversely affect the price of our common stock. Because our business is changing and evolving rapidly, our historical operating results may not be necessarily indicative of our future operating results. Factors that may cause our operating results to fluctuate include the following:

 

changes in demand for our platform, including related to the seasonal nature of our clients’ spending on digital advertising campaigns;

 

changes in our pricing policies, the pricing policies of our competitors and the pricing or availability of inventory, data or other third-party services;

 

changes in our client base and platform offerings;

 

the addition or loss of advertising agencies and advertisers as clients;

 

changes in advertising budget allocations, agency affiliations or marketing strategies;

 

changes to our product, media, client or channel mix;

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changes and uncertainty in the regulatory environment for us, advertisers or others in the advertising industry;

 

changes in the economic prospects of advertisers or the economy generally, which could alter advertisers’ spending priorities, or could increase the time or costs required to complete advertising inventory sales;

 

changes in the availability of advertising inventory through real-time advertising exchanges or in the cost of reaching end consumers through digital advertising;

 

disruptions or outages on our platform;

 

the introduction of new technologies or offerings by our competitors;

 

changes in our capital expenditures as we acquire the hardware, equipment and other assets required to support our business;

 

timing differences between our payments for advertising inventory and our collection of related advertising revenue;

 

the length and unpredictability of our sales cycle; and

 

costs related to acquisitions of businesses or technologies, or employee recruiting.

Based upon the factors above and others beyond our control, we have a limited ability to forecast our future revenue, costs and expenses, and as a result, our operating results may, from time to time, fall below our estimates or the expectations of analysts and investors.

We often have long sales cycles, which can result in significant time between initial contact with a prospect and execution of a client agreement, making it difficult to project when, if at all, we will obtain new clients and when we will generate revenue from those clients.

Our sales cycle, from initial contact to contract execution and implementation can take significant time. Our sales efforts involve educating our clients about the use, technical capabilities and benefits of our platform. Some of our clients undertake an evaluation process that frequently involves not only our platform but also the offerings of our competitors. As a result, it is difficult to predict when we will obtain new clients and begin generating revenue from these new clients. Even if our sales efforts result in obtaining a new client, under our usage-based pricing model, the client controls when and to what extent it uses our platform. As a result, we may not be able to add clients, or generate revenue, as quickly as we may expect, which could harm our revenue growth rates.

We are subject to payment-related risks and, if our clients do not pay or dispute their invoices, our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.

Many of our contracts with advertising agencies provide that if the advertiser does not pay the agency, the agency is not liable to us, and we must seek payment solely from the advertiser, a type of arrangement called sequential liability. Contracting with these agencies, which in some cases have or may develop higher-risk credit profiles, may subject us to greater credit risk than if we were to contract directly with advertisers. This credit risk may vary depending on the nature of an advertising agency’s aggregated advertiser base. We may also be involved in disputes with agencies and their advertisers over the operation of our platform, the terms of our agreements or our billings for purchases made by them through our platform. If we are unable to resolve disputes with our clients, we may lose clients or clients may decrease their use of our platform and our financial performance and growth may be adversely affected. If we are unable to collect or make adjustments to bills to clients, we could incur write-offs for bad debt, which could harm our results of operations. In the future, bad debt may exceed reserves for such contingencies and our bad debt exposure may increase over time. Any increase in write-offs for bad debt could harm our business, financial condition and operating results. Even if we are not paid by our clients on time or at all, we are still obligated to pay for the advertising we have purchased for the advertising campaign, and as a consequence, our results of operations and financial condition would be adversely impacted.

A substantial portion of our business is from advertising agencies that do not pay us until they receive payment from the advertiser, resulting in an increased length of time between our payment for media inventory and our receipt of payment for use of our platform, and our ability to collect for non-payment may be limited to the advertiser, thereby increasing our risk of non-payment.

Substantially all of the spend on our platform is from advertising agencies. Generally, we are contractually required to pay advertising inventory and data suppliers within a negotiated period of time, regardless of whether our clients pay us on time, or at all. Additionally, while we attempt to negotiate long payment periods with our suppliers and shorter periods from our clients, we are not always successful. As a result, we often face a timing issue with our accounts payable on shorter cycles than our accounts receivables, requiring us to remit payments from our own funds, and accept the risk of bad debt.

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This collections and payments cycle will increasingly consume working capital if we continue to be successful in growing our business. In addition, we typically experience slow payment by advertising agencies as is common in our industry. If we are unable to borrow against these receivables on commercially acceptable terms, our working capital availability could be reduced, and as a consequence, our results of operations and financial condition would be adversely impacted.

Due to this timing imbalance in collections and payments, we rely on our credit facility to partially or completely fund our working capital requirements. We cannot assure you that as we continue to grow, our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations or that future borrowings will be available to us under the credit facility in an amount sufficient to fund our working capital needs. If our cash flows and credit facility borrowings are insufficient to fund our working capital requirements, we may not be able to grow at the rate we currently expect or at all. In addition, in the absence of sufficient cash flows from operations, we might be unable to meet our obligations under our credit facility and we may therefore be at risk of default thereunder. We cannot assure you that we would be able to locate additional financing or increase amounts borrowed under our existing credit facility on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Our business is primarily dependent on advertisers buying mobile, display and video advertising. A decrease in the use of these advertising channels would harm our business, growth prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Historically, our clients have predominantly used our platform to purchase mobile, display and video advertising inventory. We expect that these will continue to be significant channels used by our clients for digital advertising. Should our clients lose confidence in the value or effectiveness of mobile, display and video advertising, the demand for our platform could decline.

We have been, and are continuing to, enhance our social, native, audio and CTV offerings. We refer to the ability to provide offerings across multiple advertising channels as omnichannel. We may not be able to maintain or grow advertising inventory for some of our omnichannels and some of our omnichannel offerings may not gain market acceptance. A decrease in the use of mobile, display and video advertising, or our inability to further penetrate these and other advertising channels, would harm our growth prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

If our access to quality advertising inventory is diminished, our revenue could decline and our growth could be impeded.

We must maintain a consistent supply of attractive ad inventory. Our success depends on our ability to secure quality inventory on reasonable terms across a broad range of advertising networks and exchanges, video, CTV, audio and mobile inventory, and social media platforms. The amount, quality and cost of inventory available to us can change at any time. A few inventory suppliers hold a significant portion of the programmatic inventory either generally or concentrated in a particular channel, such as audio and social media. In addition, we compete with companies with which we have business relationships. For example, Google is one of our largest advertising inventory suppliers in addition to being one of our competitors. If Google or any other company with attractive advertising inventory limits our access to its advertising inventory, our business could be adversely affected. If our relationships with any of our suppliers were to cease, or if the material terms of these relationships were to change unfavorably, our business would be negatively impacted. Our suppliers are generally not bound by long-term contracts. As a result, there is no guarantee that we will have access to a consistent supply of quality inventory on favorable terms. If we are unable to compete favorably for advertising inventory available on real-time advertising exchanges, or if real-time advertising exchanges decide not to make their advertising inventory available to us, we may not be able to place advertisements or find alternative sources of inventory with comparable traffic patterns and consumer demographics in a timely manner. Furthermore, the inventory that we access through real-time advertising exchanges may be of low quality or misrepresented to us, despite attempts by us and our suppliers to prevent fraud and conduct quality assurance checks.

Inventory suppliers control the bidding process for the inventory they supply, and their processes may not always work in our favor. For example, suppliers may place restrictions on the use of their inventory, including prohibiting the placement of advertisements on behalf of specific advertisers. Through the bidding process, we may not win the right to deliver advertising to the inventory that is selected through our platform and may not be able to replace inventory that is no longer made available to us.

As new types of inventory, such as CTV, become available, we will need to expend significant resources to ensure we have access to such new inventory. Although television advertising is a large market, only a very small percentage of it is currently purchased through digital advertising exchanges. We are investing heavily in our programmatic television offering, including by increasing our workforce and by adding new features, functions and integrations to our platform. If the CTV market does not grow as we anticipate or we fail to successfully serve such market, our growth prospects could be harmed.

Our success depends on consistently adding valued inventory in a cost-effective manner. If we are unable to maintain a consistent supply of quality inventory for any reason, client retention and loyalty, and our financial condition and operating results could be harmed.

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Seasonal fluctuations in advertising activity could have a negative impact on our revenue, cash flow and operating results.

Our revenue, cash flow, operating results and other key operating and performance metrics may vary from quarter to quarter due to the seasonal nature of our clients’ spending on advertising campaigns. For example, clients tend to devote more of their advertising budgets to the fourth calendar quarter to coincide with consumer holiday spending. Moreover, advertising inventory in the fourth quarter may be more expensive due to increased demand for advertising inventory. Political advertising could also cause our revenue to increase during election cycles and decrease during other periods. Our historical revenue growth has masked the impact of seasonality, but if our growth rate declines or seasonal spending becomes more pronounced, seasonality could have a more significant impact on our revenue, cash flow and operating results from period to period.

As our costs increase, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to sustain profitability.

We have expended significant resources to grow our business in recent years by increasing the offerings of our platform, growing our number of employees and expanding internationally. We anticipate continued growth that could require substantial financial and other resources to, among other things:

 

develop our platform, including by investing in our engineering team, creating, acquiring or licensing new products or features, and improving the availability and security of our platform;

 

continue to expand internationally by growing our sales force and client services team in an effort to increase our client base and spend through our platform, and by adding inventory and data from countries our clients are seeking;

 

improve our technology infrastructure, including investing in internal technology development and acquiring outside technologies;

 

expand our platform’s reach in new and growing channels such as CTV, including expanding the supply of CTV inventory;

 

cover general and administrative expenses, including legal, accounting and other expenses necessary to support a larger organization;

 

cover sales and marketing expenses, including a significant expansion of our direct sales organization;

 

cover expenses relating to data collection and consumer privacy compliance, including additional infrastructure, automation and personnel; and

 

explore strategic acquisitions.

Investing in the foregoing, however, may not yield anticipated returns. Consequently, as our costs increase, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to sustain profitability.

We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and, if our remediation of this material weakness is not effective, or if we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting in the future, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations. If our internal control over financial reporting is not effective, it may adversely affect investor confidence in us and the price of our common stock.

As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in such internal control. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and, beginning with this annual report on Form 10-K, provide a management report on internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

As described in “Item 9A. Controls and Procedures” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, during the quarter ended December 31, 2017, we completed the remediation measures including the validation, testing of design and concluding on the operating effectiveness of our controls related to certain of our previously reported material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting. However, we have not completed remediation measures related to our previously reported material weakness resulting from an absence of certain information technology general controls (“ITGCs”) related to our platform system applications. As a result, management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as of December 31, 2017.

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Certain ITGCs related to our platform system applications were not fully implemented or have not been in place for a sufficient period of time to adequately evaluate whether the related material weakness has been completely remediated as of December 31, 2017. These internal controls will require further evaluation, including testing the operating effectiveness of these internal controls over a sustained period of financial reporting cycles.

While we believe that these efforts will improve our internal control over financial reporting, the implementation of these measures is ongoing and will require validation and testing of the design and operating effectiveness of internal controls over a sustained period of financial reporting cycles. We cannot assure you that the measures we have taken to date, and are continuing to implement, will be sufficient to remediate the material weakness we have identified or avoid potential future material weaknesses. If the steps we take do not correct the material weakness in a timely manner, we will be unable to conclude that we maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting. Accordingly, there could continue to be a reasonable possibility that these deficiencies or others could result in a misstatement of our accounts or disclosures that would result in a material misstatement of our financial statements that would not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

The process of designing and implementing internal control over financial reporting required to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is time consuming, costly and complicated. If during the evaluation and testing process, we identify one or more other material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting or determine that the existing material weakness has not been remediated, our management will be unable to assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective. Even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm may conclude that there are material weaknesses with respect to our internal controls or the level at which our internal controls are documented, designed, implemented or reviewed. If we are unable to assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to express an opinion as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of our common stock could be adversely affected and we could become subject to litigation or investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources.

We allow our clients to utilize application programming interfaces, or APIs, with our platform, which could result in outages or security breaches and negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.

The use of APIs by our clients has significantly increased in recent years. Our APIs allow clients to build their own media buying and data management interface by using our APIs to develop custom integration of their business with our platform. The increased use of APIs increases security and operational risks to our systems, including the risk for intrusion attacks, data theft, or denial of service attacks. Furthermore, while APIs allow clients greater ease and power in accessing our platform, they also increase the risk of overusing our systems, potentially causing outages. We have experienced system slowdowns due to client overuse of our systems through our APIs. While we have taken measures intended to decrease security and outage risks associated with the use of APIs, we cannot guarantee that such measures will be successful. Our failure to prevent outages or security breaches resulting from API use could result in government enforcement actions against us, claims for damages by consumers and other affected individuals, costs associated with investigation and remediation damage to our reputation and loss of goodwill, any of which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results.

We may experience outages and disruptions on our platform if we fail to maintain adequate security and supporting infrastructure as we scale our platform, which may harm our reputation and negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.

As we grow our business, we expect to continue to invest in technology services and equipment, including data centers, network services and database technologies, as well as potentially increase our reliance on open source software. Without these improvements, our operations might suffer from unanticipated system disruptions, slow transaction processing, unreliable service levels, impaired quality or delays in reporting accurate information regarding transactions in our platform, any of which could negatively affect our reputation and ability to attract and retain clients. In addition, the expansion and improvement of our systems and infrastructure may require us to commit substantial financial, operational and technical resources, with no assurance our business will increase. If we fail to respond to technological change or to adequately maintain, expand, upgrade and develop our systems and infrastructure in a timely fashion, our growth prospects and results of operations could be adversely affected. The steps we take to increase the reliability, integrity and security of our platform as it scales are expensive and complex, and our execution could result in operational failures and increased vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Such cyber-attacks could include denial-of-service attacks impacting service availability (including the ability to deliver ads) and reliability, tricking company employees into releasing control of their systems to a hacker, or the introduction of computer viruses or malware into our systems with a view to steal confidential or proprietary data. Cyber-attacks of increasing sophistication may be difficult to detect and could result in the theft of our intellectual property and data from our platform. We are also vulnerable to unintentional errors or malicious actions by persons with authorized access to our systems that exceed the scope of their access rights, distribute data erroneously, or, unintentionally or intentionally, interfere with the intended operations of our platform. Moreover, we could be adversely impacted by outages and disruptions in the online platforms of our

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inventory and data suppliers, such as real-time advertising exchanges. Outages and disruptions of our platform, including due to cyber-attacks, may harm our reputation and negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Operational and performance issues with our platform, whether real or perceived, including a failure to respond to technological changes or to upgrade our technology systems, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

We depend upon the sustained and uninterrupted performance of our platform to manage our inventory supply; bid on inventory for each campaign; collect, process and interpret data; and optimize campaign performance in real time and provide billing information to our financial systems. If our platform cannot scale to meet demand, if there are errors in our execution of any of these functions on our platform, or if we experience outages, then our business may be harmed. We may also face material delays in introducing new services, products and enhancements. If competitors introduce new products and services using new technologies or if new industry standards and practices emerge, our existing proprietary technology and systems may become obsolete.

Our platform is complex and multifaceted, and operational and performance issues could arise both from the platform itself and from outside factors. Errors, failures, vulnerabilities or bugs have been found in the past, and may in the future, be found. Our platform also relies on third-party technology and systems to perform properly, and our platform is often used in connection with computing environments utilizing different operating systems, system management software, equipment and networking configurations, which may cause errors in, or failures of, our platform or such other computing environments. Operational and performance issues with our platform could include the failure of our user interface, outages, errors during upgrades or patches, discrepancies in costs billed versus costs paid, unanticipated volume overwhelming our databases, server failure, or catastrophic events affecting one or more server farms. While we have built redundancies in our systems, full redundancies do not exist. Some failures will shut our platform down completely, others only partially. Partial failures, which we have experienced in the past, could result in unauthorized bidding, cessation of our ability to bid or deliver impressions or deletion of our reporting, in each case resulting in unanticipated financial obligations or impact.

Operational and performance issues with our platform could also result in negative publicity, damage to our brand and reputation, loss of or delay in market acceptance of our platform, increased costs or loss of revenue, loss of the ability to access our platform, loss of competitive position or claims by clients for losses sustained by them. Alleviating problems resulting from such issues could require significant expenditures of capital and other resources and could cause interruptions, delays or the cessation of our business, any of which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

Legislation and regulation of online businesses, including privacy and data protection regimes, could create unexpected costs, subject us to enforcement actions for compliance failures, or cause us to change our platform or business model, which may have a material adverse effect on our business.

U.S. and foreign governments have enacted or are considering enacting legislation related to digital advertising and we expect to see an increase in, or changes to, legislation and regulation related to our industry, including the use of geo-location data to inform advertising, the collection and use of non-identifiable or identifiable Internet user data and unique device identifiers, such as IP address or mobile unique device identifiers, and other data protection and privacy-related regulation.

Additionally, industry groups in the U.S., such as the Digital Advertising Alliance, or DAA, and the Network Advertising Initiative, or NAI, and their international counterparts have self-regulatory guidelines that are subject to periodic updates to which we have agreed to adhere. Such legislation and regulation could cause us to incur unexpected compliance costs and adversely affect demand for our platform, or otherwise harm our business, results of operation and financial condition.

For instance, a wide variety of local, state, national and international laws and regulations apply to the collection, use, retention, protection, disclosure, transfer (including transfer across national boundaries) and other processing of data collected from or about consumers and devices. While we have not collected data that is traditionally considered personal data, such as an individual’s name, email address, address, phone numbers, social security numbers, or credit card numbers, we typically do collect and store IP addresses and other device identifiers (such as unique cookie identifiers and mobile app identifiers), which are or may be considered personal data in some jurisdictions or otherwise may be the subject of legislation or regulation.

Additionally, evolving definitions of what is considered personal data within the European Union (including the European Economic Area, or EEA, countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or EU, and elsewhere may also impact us. On October 19, 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that IP addresses in certain circumstances are “personal data” under current EU law, at least when such IP addresses collected by website operators can be combined with information held by ISPs and other companies that have the ability to identify a user’s real-life identity. In addition, the General Data Protection Regulation, which applies to any company inside or outside the EU that collects and uses personal data in connection with the offering of goods or services to individuals in the EU or the monitoring of the behavior of individuals in the EU, will come into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR clarifies that the definition of “personal data” under the current EU data protection framework includes online identifiers provided by individuals’ devices, apps, and protocols (such as IP addresses, mobile device IDs, cookie strings) and individuals’ location data, if there is potential that individuals can be identified by such data. The GDPR also enhances data protection obligations for controllers of personal data and for service providers processing personal data. These enhancements may bring about significant

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changes in the way the advertising technology industry operates in the EU, and some companies may have difficulty adapting their businesses and technology. Non-compliance with the GDPR can trigger steep fines of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover. Preparing to meet the GDPR’s requirements before it becomes effective, and maintaining compliance with the GDPR thereafter, requires significant time, resources and expense to change our business practices and our backend configuration, and may increase operating costs, or limit our ability to operate or expand our business.

For the transfer of personal data from the EU to the U.S., we rely upon, and are currently certified under, the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks. The Privacy Shield Framework, however, continue to face criticism from privacy advocates in the EU, and is also subject to pending legal challenges in the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Other EU mechanisms for adequate data transfer such as the standard contractual clauses are also being challenged in the EU courts. These challenges to the legal means used to transfer data may lead to governmental enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business. We may find it necessary to establish systems to maintain personal data originating from the EU in the EU, which may involve substantial expense and may cause us to divert resources from other aspects of our business, all of which may adversely affect our business.

We take commercially reasonable measures to protect the security of information that we collect, use and disclose in the operation of our business, and to offer privacy protections with respect to such information, including conducting third-party audits of our privacy practices and review our privacy policy. Such measures, however, may not always be effective and may not identify data security or privacy related risks or inadequate or inappropriate practices we have used or adopted.

Additionally, as the advertising industry evolves, and new ways of collecting, combining and using data are created, governments may enact legislation that could result in our having to re-design features or functions of our platform, therefore incurring unexpected compliance costs. For example, the Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, has examined, and likely will continue to examine, the privacy issues that arise as marketers track consumers across several devices, otherwise known as cross-device tracking. The FTC may promulgate guidance regarding cross-device tracking, may encourage legislation governing these practices, and may use its enforcement powers under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (which prohibits “unfair” and “deceptive” trade practices) to investigate companies engaging in cross-device tracking. Similarly, evolving privacy regulation and self-regulation could affect our growth in omnichannel products.

While we contractually prohibit our clients and inventory and data suppliers from supplying personally identifiable information or other sensitive information to our system, we may inadvertently receive such information, which may result in us breaching privacy-related legislation or regulations. Additionally, we have contractual obligations to indemnify and hold harmless some of our clients and suppliers for the costs or consequences of our failure to comply with privacy-related legislation and regulations, which may be triggered by such inadvertent ingestion of personally identifiable information in our platform.

In addition to government regulation, the DAA, NAI, and other privacy advocates and industry groups, may propose new and different self-regulatory standards that either legally or contractually apply to us. We also expect that there will continue to be new proposed laws and regulations concerning privacy, data protection and information security, and we cannot yet determine the impact such future laws, regulations and standards may have on our business. Future laws, regulations, standards and other obligations, and changes in the interpretation and enforcement of existing laws, regulations, standards and other obligations, as well as increased enforcement by industry groups or data protection authorities, could require changes to our practices or impair our or our clients’ ability to collect, use or disclose information relating to consumers, which could decrease demand for our platform, increase our costs and impair our ability to maintain and grow our client base and increase our revenue. New laws, amendments to or re-interpretations of existing laws and regulations, industry standards, contractual obligations and other obligations may require us to incur additional costs and restrict our business operations. Because the interpretation and application of laws, contractual obligations and other obligations relating to privacy and data protection are still uncertain, it is possible that these laws and other obligations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our existing data management practices or the features of our platform. If so, in addition to the possibility of fines, lawsuits and other claims, we could be required to fundamentally change our business activities and practices or modify our products, which could have an adverse effect on our business. We may be unable to make such changes and modifications in a commercially reasonable manner or at all, and our ability to develop new products and features could be limited.

Data protection and privacy concerns are an important part of the programmatic advertising buying industry. Even the perception of privacy concerns, whether or not valid, may harm our reputation and inhibit use of our platform by current and future clients. For example, claims or adverse publicity could result from the perception of pharmaceuticals or medical advertisements targeting conditions. Our failure or perceived failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could result in enforcement actions against us, including fines, imprisonment of our officers and public censure, claims for damages by consumers and other affected individuals, damage to our reputation and loss of goodwill, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and operating results.

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If the use of “third-party cookies” or other tracking technology is rejected by Internet users, restricted or otherwise subject to unfavorable regulation, or the ability to use data on our platform is otherwise restricted, our performance may decline and we may lose advertisers and revenue.

Digital advertising mostly relies on the use of cookies, pixels and other similar technology, which we refer to collectively as cookies, to collect data about interactions with users and devices. To provide our platform, we utilize third-party cookies, which are cookies owned and used by parties other than the owners of the website or app visited by the Internet user. Our cookies are used to record information tied to a random unique identifier, including such information as when an Internet user views an ad, clicks on an ad or visits one of our advertiser’s websites through a browser while the cookie is active. We use cookies to help us achieve our advertisers’ campaign goals on the web, to limit the instances that an Internet user sees the same advertisement, to report information to our advertisers regarding the performance of their advertising campaigns and to detect and prevent malicious behavior and invalid traffic throughout our network of inventory. We also use data from cookies to help our clients decide whether to bid on, and how to price, an opportunity to place an advertisement in a specific location, at a given time, in front of a particular Internet user. Additionally, our clients use cookies and other technologies to add information they have collected or acquired about users into our platform. Without such data, our clients may not have sufficient insight into an Internet user’s activity, which may compromise their and our ability to determine which inventory to purchase for a specific campaign, and undermine the effectiveness of our platform.

Cookies may be deleted or blocked by Internet users who do not want information to be collected about them. The most commonly used Internet browsers—Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari—allow Internet users to modify their browser settings to prevent cookies from being accepted by their browsers. Additionally, the Safari browser currently blocks some third-party cookies by default and has recently added controls that algorithmically block or limit some cookies. Other browsers could add similar controls. In addition, Internet users can delete cookies from their computers at any time. Some Internet users also download free or paid ad blocking software that not only prevents third-party cookies from being stored on a user’s computer, but also blocks all interaction with a third-party ad server. Google has introduced ad blocking software in its Chrome web browser that will block certain ads based on quality standards established under a multi-stakeholder coalition. Additionally, the DAA, NAI and our company have certain opt-out mechanisms for users to opt out of the collection of their information via cookies. If more Internet users adopt these settings or delete their cookies more frequently than they currently do, or restrictions are imposed by advertisers and publishers, there are changes in technology or new developments in laws, regulations or industry standards around cookies, our business could be harmed.

For in-app advertising, data regarding interactions between users and devices are tracked mostly through stable, pseudonymous identifiers that are built into the device operating system with privacy controls that allow users to express a preference with respect to data collection for advertising, including to disable the identifier. These identifiers and privacy controls are defined by the developers of the mobile platforms and could be changed by the mobile platforms in a way that may negatively impact our business. Privacy aspects of other channels for programmatic advertising, such as CTVs or over-the-top video, are still developing. Technical or policy changes, including regulation or industry self-regulation, could harm our growth in those channels.

In addition, in the EU, Directive 2002/58/EC (as amended by Directive 2009/136/EC), commonly referred to as the Cookie Directive, directs EU member states to ensure that accessing information on an Internet user’s computer, such as through a cookie and other similar technologies, is allowed only if the Internet user has been informed about such access and given his or her consent. A replacement for the Cookie Directive is currently under discussion by EU member states to complement and bring electronic communication services in line with the GDPR and force a harmonized approach across EU member states. Like the GDPR, the proposed ePrivacy Regulation has extra-territorial application as it applies to businesses established outside the EU who provide publicly-available electronic communications services to, or gather data from the devices of, users in the EU. Though still subject to debate, the proposed ePrivacy Regulation is expected to do away with implied consent pop ups and banners used to meet the current requirements of the Cookie Directive and instead required explicit user consent. The fines and penalties for breach of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation may be significant. Limitations on the use or effectiveness of cookies, or other limitations on our, or our clients’, ability to collect and use data for advertising, whether imposed by EU member state implementations of the Cookie Directive, by the new ePrivacy Regulation, or otherwise, may impact the performance of our platform. We may be required to, or otherwise may determine that it is advisable to, make significant changes in our business operations and product and services to obtain user opt-in for cookies and use of cookie data, or develop or obtain additional tools and technologies to compensate for a lack of cookie data. We may not be able to make the necessary changes in our business operations and products and services to obtain user opt-in for cookies and use of cookie data, or develop, implement or acquire additional tools that compensate for a lack of cookie data. Moreover, even if we are able to do so, such additional products and tools may be subject to further regulation, time consuming to develop or costly to obtain, and less effective than our current use of cookies.

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Potential “Do Not Track” standards or government regulation could limit our or our clients’ access to the user data that informs the advertising campaigns we run and, as a result, undermine the effectiveness of our platform.

As the use of cookies has received ongoing media attention over the past several years, some government regulators, such as the FTC, and privacy advocates have suggested creating a “Do Not Track” standard that would allow Internet users to express a preference, independent of cookie settings in their browser, not to have their online browsing activities tracked. Similar standards have been set at device-level so that activities on mobile devices, including browsing and app uses, are not tracked. The major Internet browsers have implemented some version of a “Do Not Track” setting. The potential regulatory and self-regulatory landscape is inherently uncertain, as there is no definition of tracking, no consensus regarding what message is conveyed by a “Do Not Track” setting and no industry standards regarding how to respond to a “Do Not Track” preference. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, chartered a “Tracking Protection Working Group” in 2011 to convene a multi-stakeholder group of academics, thought leaders, companies, industry groups and consumer advocacy organizations, to create a voluntary “Do Not Track” standard for the World Wide Web. The group has yet to agree upon a standard and has considered disbanding due to uncertainty regarding the implementation of a “Do Not Track” standard. Work in the group has significantly slowed, and participation has declined to only a few participants. Despite the lack of consensus in this arena, the FTC, as it has suggested in the past, or other US federal or state government regulators, may pursue legislation if the industry cannot agree upon a standard. In the EU, the Article 29 Working Party recommended in an Opinion issued on April 4, 2017 that the proposed ePrivacy Regulation require terminal equipment and software to offer privacy protective settings by default with the ability for users to adjust these settings during setup, browser settings that enable users to signal specific consent, and mandatory adherence to “Do Not Track” to give users additional control over the collection of their Internet activity data. If a “Do Not Track” browser setting is adopted by many Internet users or if a “Do Not Track” standard imposed by state or federal or foreign legislation (such as the proposed ePrivacy Regulation), or agreed upon by standard setting groups, which prohibits us from using data as we currently do, we may have to change our business practices, our clients may reduce their use of our platform, and our business, financial condition and operating results could be adversely affected.

Failure to comply with industry self-regulation could harm our brand, reputation and business.

We have committed to comply with the NAI’s Code of Conduct and the DAA’s Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising in the U.S., as well as similar self-regulatory principles in Europe and Canada adopted by the local Digital Advertising Alliance. Our efforts to comply with these self-regulatory principles include offering Internet users notice and transparency when advertising is served to them based, in part, on browsing data recorded by cookies. We also offer Internet users the ability to opt out of receiving interest-based advertisements. If we make mistakes in our implementation of these principles, or if self-regulatory bodies expand these guidelines or government authorities issue different guidelines regarding Internet-based advertising, or our opt out mechanisms fail to work as designed, or if Internet users misunderstand our technology or our commitments with respect to these principles, we may, as a result, be subject to negative publicity, government investigation, government or private litigation, or investigation by self-regulatory bodies or other accountability groups. Any such action against us, or investigations, even if meritless, could be costly and time consuming, require us to change our business practices, cause us to divert management’s attention and our resources and be damaging to our brand, reputation and business.

Our failure to meet content and inventory standards and provide services that our advertisers and inventory suppliers trust, could harm our brand and reputation and negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.

We do not provide or control either the content of the advertisements we serve or that of the websites providing the inventory. Advertisers provide the advertising content and inventory suppliers provide the inventory. Both advertisers and inventory suppliers are concerned about being associated with content they consider inappropriate, competitive or inconsistent with their brands, or illegal and they are hesitant to spend money without guaranteed brand security. Additionally, advertisers may seek to display advertising campaigns in jurisdictions that do not permit such advertising (for example, pharmaceutical advertising is not permitted in many countries). Consequently, our reputation depends in part on providing services that our advertisers and inventory suppliers trust, and we have contractual obligations to meet content and inventory standards. We contractually prohibit the misuse of our platform by agencies (and their advertiser clients) and inventory suppliers. Additionally, we use our proprietary technology and third-party services to, and we participate in industry co-ops that work to, detect malware and other content issues as well as click fraud (whether by humans or software known as “bots”) and to block fraudulent inventory, including “tool bar” inventory, which is inventory that appears within an application and displaces any advertising that would otherwise be displayed on the website. Despite such efforts, our clients may inadvertently purchase inventory that proves to be unacceptable for their campaigns, in which case, we may not be able to recoup the amounts paid to inventory suppliers. Preventing and combating fraud is an industry-wide issue that requires constant vigilance, and we cannot guarantee that we will be fully successful in doing so. There are other means we could use, such as human review of content we serve, that some of our competitors undertake, but because our platform is self-service, and because such means are cost-intensive, we do not utilize all means available to decrease this risk. We may provide access to inventory that is objectionable to our advertisers or we may serve advertising that contains malware or objectionable content to our inventory suppliers, which could harm our or our clients’ brand and reputation, and negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.

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If we fail to offer sufficient client training and support, our business and reputation would suffer.

Because we offer a self-serve platform, client training and support is important for the successful marketing and continued use of our platform and for maintaining and increasing spend through our platform from existing and new clients. Providing this training and support requires that our platform operations personnel have specific domain knowledge and expertise, making it more difficult for us to hire qualified personnel and to scale up our support operations due to the extensive training required. The importance of high-quality client service will increase as we expand our business and pursue new clients. If we are not responsive and proactive regarding our clients’ advertising needs, or do not provide effective support for our clients’ advertising campaigns, our ability to retain our existing clients would suffer and our reputation with existing or potential clients would be harmed, which would negatively impact our business.

If the non-proprietary technology, software, products and services that we use are unavailable, have future terms we cannot agree to, or do not perform as we expect, our business, financial condition and operating results could be harmed.

We depend on various technology, software, products and services from third parties or available as open source, including for critical features and functionality of our platform, data centers and API technology, payment processing, payroll and other professional services. For example, in order for clients to target ads in ways they desire and otherwise optimize and verify campaigns, our platform must have access to data regarding Internet user behavior and reports with demographic information regarding Internet users. Identifying, negotiating, complying with and integrating with third-party terms and technology are complex, costly and time-consuming matters. Failure by third-party providers to maintain, support or secure their technology either generally or for our accounts specifically, or downtime, errors or defects in their products or services, could adversely impact our platform, our administrative obligations or other areas of our business. Having to replace any third-party providers or their technology, products or services could result in outages or difficulties in our ability to provide our services. For example, we rely upon third-party co-location providers for our data centers, and we are dependent on these third parties to provide continuous power, cooling, Internet connectivity and physical and technological security for our servers. In the event that these third-party providers experience any interruption in operations or cease business for any reason, or if we are unable to agree on satisfactory terms for continued hosting relationships, we would be forced to enter into a relationship with other service providers or assume some hosting responsibilities ourselves. In addition, even a disruption as brief as a few minutes could have a negative impact on marketplace activities and could result in a loss of revenue. If we are unsuccessful in establishing or maintaining our relationships with our third-party providers or otherwise need to replace them, internal resources may need to be diverted and our business, financial condition and operating results could be harmed.

We face potential liability and harm to our business based on the human factor of inputting information into our platform.

Campaigns are set up using several variables available to our clients on our platform. While our platform includes several checks and balances, it is possible for human error to result in significant over-spending. The system requires a daily cap at the ad group level. We also provide for the client to input daily and overall caps at the advertising inventory campaign level at their discretion. Additionally, we set a credit limit for each user so that they cannot spend beyond the level of credit risk we are willing to accept. Despite these protections, the ability for overspend exists. For example, campaigns which last for a period of time can be set to pace evenly or as quickly as possible. If a client with a high credit limit enters the wrong daily cap with a campaign set to a rapid pace, it is possible for a campaign to accidently go significantly over budget. While our client contracts state that clients are responsible for media purchased through our platform, we are ultimately responsible for paying the inventory providers and we may be unable to collect for such issues.

International expansion subjects us to additional costs and risks that can adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

International expansion subjects us to many challenges associated with supporting a rapidly growing business across a multitude of cultures, customs, monetary, legal and regulatory systems and commercial infrastructures. We have a limited operating history outside of the U.S., and our ability to manage our business and conduct our operations internationally requires considerable attention and resources.

We currently have sales, account management, inventory, and other personnel in countries within Europe, Asia, and Australia, and we anticipate expanding our international operations in the future. Some of the countries into which we are, or potentially may, expand score unfavorably on the Corruption Perceptions Index, or CPI, of the Transparency International. Our teams outside the U.S. are substantially smaller than our teams in the U.S. To the extent we are unable to effectively engage with non-U.S. advertising agencies or international divisions of U.S. agencies due to our limited sales force capacity, or we are unable to secure quality non-U.S. ad inventory and data on reasonable terms due to our limited inventory and data team capacity, we may be unable to effectively grow in international markets.

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Our international operations subject us to a variety of additional risks, including:

 

increased management, travel, infrastructure and legal compliance costs associated with having multiple international operations;

 

long payment cycles;

 

potential complications in enforcing contracts and collections;

 

increased financial accounting and reporting burdens and complexities;

 

concerns regarding negative, unstable or changing economic conditions in the countries and regions where we operate;

 

increased administrative costs and risks associated with compliance with local laws and regulations, including relating to privacy and data security;

 

regulatory and legal compliance, including with anti-bribery laws, import and export control laws, economic sanctions and other regulatory limitations or obligations on our operations;

 

heightened risks of unfair or corrupt business practices and of improper or fraudulent sales arrangements;

 

difficulties in invoicing and collecting in foreign currencies and associated foreign currency exposure;

 

difficulties in repatriating or transferring funds from or converting currencies;

 

administrative difficulties, costs and expenses related to various local languages, cultures and political nuances;

 

varied labor and employment laws, including those relating to termination of employees;

 

reduced protection for intellectual property rights in some countries and practical difficulties of enforcing rights abroad; and

 

compliance with the laws of numerous foreign taxing jurisdictions, including withholding obligations, and overlapping of different tax regimes.

We may incur significant operating expenses as a result of our international expansion, and it may not be successful. Our international business also subjects us to the impact of global and regional recessions and economic and political instability, differing regulatory requirements, costs and difficulties in managing a distributed workforce, potentially adverse tax consequences in the U.S. and abroad and restrictions on the repatriation of funds to the U.S. In addition, advertising markets outside of the U.S. are not as developed as those within the U.S., and we may be unable to grow our business sufficiently. Our failure to manage these risks and challenges successfully could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

Exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations could negatively impact our operating results.

While the majority of the transactions through our platform are denominated in U.S. dollars, we have transacted in foreign currencies for both inventory and for payments by clients from use of our platform, including principally the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, British Pound, Australian Dollar, Japanese Yen and Indonesian Rupiah. Given our anticipated international growth, we expect the number of transactions in foreign currencies to continue to grow in the future. While we do require a fee from our clients that pay in non-U.S. currency, this fee may not always cover foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. We currently have a program to hedge exposure to foreign currency fluctuations. However, the use of hedging instruments may not be available for all currencies, or may not always offset losses resulting from foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. Moreover, the use of hedging instruments can itself result in losses if we are unable to structure effective hedges with such instruments.

Future acquisitions, strategic investments or alliances could disrupt our business and harm our business, financial condition and operating results.

We may in the future explore potential acquisitions of companies or technologies, strategic investments, or alliances to strengthen our business. However, we have limited experience in acquiring and integrating businesses, products and technologies. Even if we identify an appropriate acquisition candidate, we may not be successful in negotiating the terms or financing of the acquisition, and our due diligence may fail to identify all of the problems, liabilities or other shortcomings or challenges of an acquired business, product or technology, including issues related to intellectual property, product quality or architecture, regulatory compliance practices, revenue recognition or other accounting practices or employee or client issues. Acquisitions involve numerous risks, any of which could harm our business, including:

 

regulatory hurdles;

 

anticipated benefits may not materialize;

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diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to addressing acquisition integration challenges;

 

retention of employees from the acquired company;

 

cultural challenges associated with integrating employees from the acquired company into our organization;

 

integration of the acquired company’s products and technology;

 

integration of the acquired company’s accounting, management information, human resources and other administrative systems;

 

the need to implement or improve controls, procedures and policies at a business that prior to the acquisition may have lacked effective controls, procedures and policies;

 

coordination of product development and sales and marketing functions;

 

liability for activities of the acquired company before the acquisition, including relating to privacy and data security, patent and trademark infringement claims, violations of laws, commercial disputes, tax liabilities and other known and unknown liabilities; and

 

litigation or other claims in connection with the acquired company, including claims from terminated employees, users, former stockholders or other third parties.

Failure to appropriately mitigate these risks or other issues related to such acquisitions and strategic investments could result in reducing or completely eliminating any anticipated benefits of transactions, and harm our business generally. Future acquisitions could also result in dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities, amortization expenses or the impairment of goodwill, any of which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results.

We may not be able to secure additional financing on favorable terms, or at all, to meet our future capital needs, which may in turn impair our growth.

We intend to continue to grow our business, which will require additional capital to develop new features or enhance our platform, improve our operating infrastructure, finance working capital requirements or acquire complementary businesses and technologies. Accordingly, we may need to engage in additional equity or debt financings to secure additional capital. If we raise additional funds through future issuances of equity or convertible debt securities, our existing stockholders could suffer significant dilution, and any new equity securities we issue could have rights, preferences and privileges superior to those of holders of our common stock. Any debt financing that we secure in the future could involve restrictive covenants relating to our capital raising activities and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital and to pursue business opportunities. If we are unable to secure additional funding on favorable terms, or at all, when we require it, our ability to continue to grow our business to react to market conditions could be impaired and our business may be harmed.

Our credit facility contains operating and financial covenants that restrict our business and financing activities.

Our credit facility contains restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business. In March 2016, we entered into a loan and security agreement with a syndicate led by Citibank, N.A., which we refer to as our credit facility. In May 2017, terms of our credit facility were amended and restated, and subject to certain customary conditions, we now have access to borrow up to $200.0 million aggregate principal amount of revolver borrowings. The amount of borrowing availability under our credit facility is based on our accounts receivable balance, reduced by certain reserves. As of December 31, 2017, the outstanding principal balance under our credit facility was $27.0 million, and in January 2018, we repaid this balance. Our credit facility also contains various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. Subject to limited exceptions, these covenants limit our ability to, among other things:

 

sell assets or make changes to the nature of our business;

 

engage in mergers or acquisitions;

 

incur, assume or permit additional indebtedness and guarantees;

 

make restricted payments, including paying dividends on, repurchasing, redeeming or making distributions with respect to our capital stock;

 

make specified investments;

 

engage in transactions with our affiliates; and

 

make payments in respect of subordinated debt.

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In addition, our credit facility contains a fixed charge coverage ratio which, if our excess availability under the credit facility is less than the greater of (1) $15.0 million and (2) 12.5% of the lesser of (a) the borrowing base then in effect and (b) the commitments under the credit facility then in effect, requires us to maintain a certain ratio of our earnings to principal and interest payable under the credit facility in a given period. Our obligations under the credit facility are collateralized by a pledge of substantially all of our assets, including accounts receivable, deposit accounts, intellectual property, investment property and equipment. The covenants in our credit facility may limit our ability to take actions and, in the event that we breach one or more covenants, our lenders may choose to declare an event of default and require that we immediately repay all amounts outstanding, terminate the commitment to extend further credit and foreclose on the collateral granted to them to collateralize such indebtedness, which includes our intellectual property. In addition, if we fail to meet the required covenants, we will not have access to further draw-downs under the credit facility.

Our future success depends on the continuing efforts of our key employees, including Jeff T. Green and David R. Pickles, and our ability to attract, hire, retain and motivate highly skilled employees in the future.

Our future success depends on the continuing efforts of our executive officers and other key employees, including our two founders, Jeff T. Green, our Chief Executive Officer, and David R. Pickles, our Chief Technology Officer. We rely on the leadership, knowledge and experience that our executive officers provide. They foster our corporate culture, which has been instrumental to our ability to attract and retain new talent. We also rely on employees in our product development, support and sales teams to attract and keep key clients.

The market for talent in our key areas of operations, including California and New York, is intensely competitive, which could increase our costs to attract and retain talented employees. As a result, we may incur significant costs to attract and retain employees, including significant expenditures related to salaries and benefits and compensation expenses related to equity awards, and we may lose new employees to our competitors or other companies before we realize the benefit of our investment in recruiting and training them. New employees often require significant training and, in many cases, take significant time before they achieve full productivity. Our account managers, for instance, need to be trained quickly on the features of our platform since failure to offer high-quality support may adversely affect our relationships with our clients. Technology companies like ours compete to attract the best talent. Additionally, we have little experience with recruiting in geographies outside of the U.S., and may face additional challenges in attracting and retaining international employees.

Employee turnover, including changes in our management team, could disrupt our business. None of our founders or other key employees has an employment agreement for a specific term, and any of our employees may terminate his or her employment with us at any time. The loss of one or more of our executive officers, especially our two founders, or our inability to attract and retain highly skilled employees could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

Our management team has limited experience managing a public company.

We became a public company in September 2016. Most members of our management team have limited or no experience managing a publicly-traded company, interacting with public company investors, and complying with the increasingly complex laws, rules and regulations that govern public companies. As a public company, we are now subject to significant obligations relating to reporting, procedures and internal controls, and our management team may not successfully or efficiently manage such obligations. These new obligations and scrutiny will require significant attention from our management and could divert their attention away from the day-to-day management of our business, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

If we do not effectively grow and train our sales and support teams, we may be unable to add new clients or increase sales to our existing clients and our business will be adversely affected.

We are substantially dependent on our sales and support teams to obtain new clients and to increase spend by our existing clients. We believe that there is significant competition for sales personnel with the skills and technical knowledge that we require. Our ability to achieve revenue growth will depend, in large part, on our success in recruiting, training, integrating and retaining sufficient numbers of sales personnel to support our growth. Due to the complexity of our platform, new hires require significant training and it may take significant time before they achieve full productivity. Our recent and planned hires may not become productive as quickly as we expect, and we may be unable to hire or retain sufficient numbers of qualified individuals in the markets where we do business or plan to do business. If we are unable to hire and train sufficient numbers of effective sales personnel, or the sales personnel are not successful in obtaining new clients or increasing our existing clients’ spend with us, our business will be adversely affected.

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Our corporate culture has contributed to our success and, if we are unable to maintain it as we grow, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

We have experienced and may continue to experience rapid expansion of our employee ranks. We believe our corporate culture has been a key element of our success. However, as our organization grows, it may be difficult to maintain our culture, which could reduce our ability to innovate and operate effectively. The failure to maintain the key aspects of our culture as our organization grows could result in decreased employee satisfaction, increased difficulty in attracting top talent, increased turnover and could compromise the quality of our client service, all of which are important to our success and to the effective execution of our business strategy. In the event we are unable to maintain our corporate culture as we grow to scale, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

Our proprietary rights may be difficult to enforce, which could enable others to copy or use aspects of our technology without compensating us, thereby eroding our competitive advantages and harming our business.

We rely upon a combination of trade secrets, third-party confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, additional contractual restrictions on disclosure and use, and trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws to establish and protect our proprietary rights. These laws, procedures and restrictions provide only limited protection. We currently have “theTradeDesk” and variants registered as a trademark or pending registration in the U.S. and certain foreign countries. We also rely on copyright laws to protect computer programs related to our platform and our proprietary technologies, although to date we have not registered for statutory copyright protection. We have registered numerous Internet domain names in the U.S. and certain foreign countries related to our business in order to protect our proprietary interests. We endeavor to enter into agreements with our employees and contractors in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information, as well as to clarify rights to intellectual property associated with our business. Protecting our intellectual property is a challenge, especially after our employees or our contractors end their relationship with us, and, in some cases, decide to work for our competitors. Our contracts with our employees and contractors that relate to intellectual property issues generally restrict the use of our confidential information solely in connection with our services, and strictly prohibit reverse-engineering. However, reverse engineering our software or the theft or misuse of our proprietary information could occur by employees or other third parties who have access to our technology. Enforceability of the non-compete agreements that we have in place is not guaranteed, and contractual restrictions could be breached without discovery or adequate remedies. Further, because we believe our proprietary technology is better protected by keeping our technology architecture, trade secrets, and engineering roadmap private, we have not patented our proprietary technology and cannot look to patent enforcement rights to protect our proprietary technology.

Policing unauthorized use of our technology is difficult. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries may not be as protective of intellectual property rights as those of the U.S., and mechanisms for enforcement of our proprietary rights in such countries may be inadequate. If we are unable to protect our proprietary rights (including in particular, the proprietary aspects of our platform) we may find ourselves at a competitive disadvantage to others who have not incurred the same level of expense, time and effort to create and protect their intellectual property.

We may be sued by third parties for alleged infringement of their proprietary rights, which would result in additional expense and potential damages.

There is significant patent and other intellectual property development activity in the digital advertising industry. Third-party intellectual property rights may cover significant aspects of our technologies or business methods or block us from expanding our offerings. Our success depends on the continual development of our platform. From time to time, we may receive claims from third parties that our platform and underlying technology infringe or violate such third parties’ intellectual property rights. To the extent we gain greater public recognition, we may face a higher risk of being the subject of intellectual property claims. The cost of defending against such claims, whether or not the claims have merit, is significant, regardless of whether we are successful in our defense, and could divert the attention of management, technical personnel and other employees from our business operations. Litigation regarding intellectual property rights is inherently uncertain due to the complex issues involved, and we may not be successful in defending ourselves in such matters. Additionally, we may be obligated to indemnify our clients or inventory and data suppliers in connection with any such litigation. If we are found to infringe these rights, we could potentially be required to cease utilizing portions of our platform. We may also be required to develop alternative non-infringing technology, which could require significant time and expense. Alternatively, we could be required to pay royalty payments, either as a one-time fee or ongoing, as well as damages for past use that was deemed to be infringing. If we cannot license or develop technology for any allegedly infringing aspect of our business, we would be forced to limit our service and may be unable to compete effectively. Any of these results could harm our business.

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We face potential liability and harm to our business based on the nature of our business and the content on our platform.

Advertising often results in litigation relating to copyright or trademark infringement, public performance royalties or other claims based on the nature and content of advertising that is distributed through our platform. Though we contractually require agencies to represent to us that they have the rights necessary to serve advertisements through our platform, we do not independently verify whether we are permitted to deliver, or review the content of, such advertisements. If any of these representations are untrue, we may be exposed to potential liability and our reputation may be damaged. While our clients are typically obligated to indemnify us, such indemnification may not fully cover us, or we may not be able to collect. In addition to settlement costs, we may be responsible for our own litigations costs, which can be extensive.

We are subject to anti-bribery, anti-corruption and similar laws and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal penalties or significant fines and harm our business and reputation.

We are subject to anti-bribery and similar laws, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or the FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the USA PATRIOT Act, U.S. Travel Act, the U.K. Bribery Act 2010 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and possibly other anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws have been enforced with great rigor in recent years and are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees and their agents from making or offering improper payments or other benefits to government officials and others in the private sector. As we increase our international sales and business, particularly in countries with a low score on the CPI by Transparency International, and increase our use of third parties such as sales agents, distributors, resellers or consultants, our risks under these laws will increase. We adopt appropriate policies and procedures and conduct training, but cannot guarantee that improprieties will not occur. Noncompliance with these laws could subject us to investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, other enforcement actions, disgorgement of profits, significant fines, damages, other civil and criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension and/or debarment from contracting with specified persons, the loss of export privileges, reputational harm, adverse media coverage, and other collateral consequences. Any investigations, actions and/or sanctions could have a material negative impact on our business, operating results and financial condition.

We are subject to governmental economic sanctions requirements and export and import controls that could impair our ability to compete in international markets or subject us to liability if we are not in compliance with applicable laws.

As a U.S. company, we are subject to U.S. export control and economic sanctions laws and regulations, and we are required to export our technology and services in compliance with those laws and regulations, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations and economic embargo and trade sanction programs administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. U.S. economic sanctions and export control laws and regulations prohibit the shipment of specified products and services to countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. While we are currently taking precautions to prevent doing any business, directly or indirectly, with countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions and to ensure that our technology and services are not exported or used by countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions, such measures may be circumvented. There can be no assurance that we will be in compliance with U.S. export control or economic sanctions laws and regulations in the future. Any such violation could result in significant criminal or civil fines, penalties or other sanctions and repercussions, including reputational harm that could materially adversely impact our business.

Furthermore, if we export our technology, the exports may require authorizations, including a license, a license exception or other appropriate government authorization. Complying with export control and sanctions regulations may be time-consuming and may result in the delay or loss of opportunities.

In addition, various countries regulate the import of encryption technology, including the imposition of import permitting and licensing requirements, and have enacted laws that could limit our ability to offer our platform or could limit our clients’ ability to use our platform in those countries. Changes in our platform or future changes in export and import regulations may create delays in the introduction of our platform in international markets or prevent our clients with international operations from deploying our platform globally. Any change in export or import regulations, economic sanctions or related legislation, or change in the countries, governments, persons, or technologies targeted by such regulations, could result in decreased use of our platform by, or in our decreased ability to export our technology and services to, existing or potential clients with international operations. Any decreased use of our platform or limitation on our ability to export our platform would likely adversely affect our business operating results and financial condition.

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Our tax liabilities may be greater than anticipated.

The U.S. and non-U.S. tax laws applicable to our business activities are subject to interpretation and are changing. We are subject to audit by the Internal Revenue Service and by taxing authorities of the state, local and foreign jurisdictions in which we operate. Our tax obligations are based in part on our corporate operating structure, including the manner in which we develop, value, and use our intellectual property, the jurisdictions in which we operate, how tax authorities assess revenue-based taxes such as sales and use taxes, the scope of our international operations and the value we ascribe to our intercompany transactions. Taxing authorities may challenge, and have challenged, our tax positions and methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, as well as our positions regarding the collection of sales and use taxes and the jurisdictions in which we are subject to taxes, which could expose us to additional taxes. Any adverse outcomes of such challenges to our tax positions could result in additional taxes for prior periods, interest and penalties, as well as higher future taxes. In addition, our future tax expense could increase as a result of changes in tax laws, regulations or accounting principles, or as a result of earning income in jurisdictions that have higher tax rates. An increase in our tax expense could have a negative effect on our financial position and results of operations. Moreover, the determination of our provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant estimates and judgment by management, and the tax treatment of certain transactions is uncertain. Although we believe we will make reasonable estimates and judgments, the ultimate outcome of any particular issue may differ from the amounts previously recorded in our financial statements and any such occurrence could materially affect our financial position and results of operations.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock

The market price of our Class A common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance, and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above your purchase price.

The market price of our stock and of equity securities of technology companies has historically experienced high levels of volatility. If you purchase shares of our Class A common stock, you may not be able to resell those shares at or above your purchase price. The market price of our Class A common stock has fluctuated and may fluctuate significantly in response to numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control and may not be related to our operating performance, including:

 

announcements of new offerings, products, services or technologies, commercial relationships, acquisitions or other events by us or our competitors;

 

price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time;

 

significant volatility in the market price and trading volume of technology companies in general and of companies in the digital advertising industry in particular;

 

fluctuations in the trading volume of our shares or the size of our public float;

 

actual or anticipated changes or fluctuations in our operating results;

 

whether our operating results meet the expectations of securities analysts or investors;

 

actual or anticipated changes in the expectations of investors or securities analysts;

 

litigation involving us, our industry, or both;

 

regulatory developments in the U.S., foreign countries, or both;

 

general economic conditions and trends;

 

major catastrophic events;

 

sales of large blocks of our common stock;

 

departures of key employees; or

 

an adverse impact on the company from any of the other risks cited herein.

In addition, if the stock market for technology companies, or the stock market generally, experiences a loss of investor confidence, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline for reasons unrelated to our business, operating results or financial condition. Stock prices of many technology companies have fluctuated in a manner unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. The trading price of our Class A common stock might also decline in reaction to events that affect other companies in our industry even if these events do not directly affect us. In the past, stockholders have filed securities class action litigation following periods of market volatility. If we were to become involved in securities litigation, it could subject us to substantial costs, divert resources and the attention of management from our business, and adversely affect our business.

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Substantial future sales of shares of our common stock could cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.

The market price of our Class A common stock could decline as a result of substantial sales of our common stock, particularly sales by our directors, executive officers, and significant stockholders or the perception in the market that holders of a large number of shares intend to sell their shares.

Additionally, the shares of common stock subject to outstanding options, restricted stock awards and restricted stock units under our equity incentive plans and the shares reserved for future issuance under our equity incentive plans will become eligible for sale in the public market in the future, subject to certain legal and contractual limitations.

Certain holders of our common stock have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or our stockholders.

Insiders have substantial control over our company, including as a result of the dual class structure of our common stock, which could limit your ability to influence the outcome of key decisions, including a change of control.

Our Class B common stock has ten votes per share, and our Class A common stock, which is the stock we offered in our initial public offering, or IPO, has one vote per share. Because of the ten-to-one voting ratio between our Class B and Class A common stock, the holders of our Class B common stock collectively continue to control a majority of the combined voting power of our common stock and therefore are able to control all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval so long as the shares of Class B common stock represent at least 9.1% of all outstanding shares of our Class A and Class B common stock. Stockholders who hold shares of Class B common stock, including our executive officers, employees, and directors and their affiliates, together hold approximately 74% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock as of December 31, 2017. This concentrated control limits or precludes your ability to influence corporate matters for the foreseeable future. These stockholders are able to influence or control matters requiring approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors and the approval of mergers, acquisitions or other extraordinary transactions. Their interests may differ from yours and they may vote in a manner that is adverse to your interests. This ownership concentration may deter, delay or prevent a change of control of our company, deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common stock as part of a sale of our company and may ultimately affect the market price of our common stock.

Future transfers by holders of Class B common stock will generally result in those shares converting to Class A common stock, subject to limited exceptions, such as transfers effected for estate planning or charitable purposes. The conversion of Class B common stock to Class A common stock will have the effect, over time, of increasing the relative voting power of those holders of Class B common stock who retain their shares in the long term.

The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources, divert our management’s attention and affect our ability to attract and retain qualified board members.

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, and are required to comply with the applicable requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of NASDAQ, and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Compliance with these rules and regulations increases our legal and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly and increase demand on our systems and resources. Among other things, the Exchange Act requires that we file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and operating results and maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting. Significant resources and management oversight are required to maintain and, if required, improve our disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting to meet this standard. As a result, management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could harm our business and operating results. Although we have already hired additional employees to comply with these requirements, we may need to hire even more employees in the future, which will increase our costs and expenses.

Being a public company may make it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain coverage. The heightened risks faced by directors and officers of a public company could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors, particularly to serve on our audit committee and compensation committee, and qualified executive officers.

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Our charter documents and Delaware law could discourage takeover attempts and other corporate governance changes.

Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change in control of our company. These provisions could also make it difficult for stockholders to elect directors that are not nominated by the current members of our board of directors or take other corporate actions, including effecting changes in our management. These provisions include the following provisions:

 

permit the board of directors to establish the number of directors and fill any vacancies and newly created directorships;

 

provide that our board of directors will be classified into three classes with staggered, three year terms and that directors may only be removed for cause;

 

require super-majority voting to amend certain provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws;

 

authorize the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock that our board of directors could use to implement a stockholder rights plan;

 

eliminate the ability of our stockholders to call special meetings of stockholders;

 

specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only by our board of directors, the chairman of our board of directors, or our chief executive officer;

 

prohibit stockholder action by written consent, which requires all stockholder actions to be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;

 

provide that the board of directors is expressly authorized to make, alter or repeal our bylaws;

 

provide that vacancies on our board of directors may be filled only by a majority of directors then in office, even though less than a quorum;

 

prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors;

 

restrict the forum for certain litigation against us to Delaware;

 

permit our board of directors to alter our bylaws without obtaining stockholder approval;

 

reflect the dual class structure of our common stock, as discussed above; and

 

establish advance notice requirements for nominations for election to our board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at annual stockholder meetings.

In addition, as a Delaware corporation, we are subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. These provisions may prohibit large stockholders, in particular those owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock, from merging or combining with us for a period of time.

Our certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which limits our stockholders’ ability to choose other forums for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.

Our certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the sole and exclusive forum for: (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty by any of our directors, officers, employees or our stockholders owed to us or our stockholders; (3) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation or our bylaws, or as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; or (4) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in other judicial forums for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees in jurisdictions other than Delaware. Alternatively, if a court were to find the choice of forum provision contained in our certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could have a material adverse effect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

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Item 2. Properties

We maintain our principal offices in Ventura, California, totaling approximately 25,000 square feet, under two leases that expire in September 2020 and February 2022. We also lease offices in various cities within the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia. We believe that our facilities are adequate to meet our needs for the immediate future and that, should it be needed, we will be able to secure additional space to accommodate expansion of our operations.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

We are not currently a party to any legal proceedings, litigation or claims, which, if determined adversely to us, would have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, financial condition or cash flows. We may from time to time, be party to litigation and subject to claims incident to the ordinary course of business. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Our Class A common stock began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market on September 21, 2016 under the symbol “TTD”. Prior to this date, there was no public trading market for our Class A common stock. There is no public trading market for our Class B common stock. The following table sets forth, for the indicated periods, the intraday high and low sales prices per share of our Class A common stock as reported on the NASDAQ Global Market.

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

Year Ended December 31, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third quarter (commencing September 21, 2016)

 

$

33.40

 

 

$

26.84

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

31.43

 

 

$

22.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First quarter

 

$

46.21

 

 

$

26.40

 

Second quarter

 

$

57.57

 

 

$

35.04

 

Third quarter

 

$

62.86

 

 

$

46.49

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

67.30

 

 

$

43.44

 

 

Holders of Record

As of January 31, 2018, there were approximately 14 holders of record of our Class A common stock and 46 holders of record of our Class B common stock. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees. This number of holders also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any dividends on our Class A or Class B common stock, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain any earnings to finance the operation and expansion of our business. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon then-existing conditions, including our earnings, capital requirements, results of operations, financial condition, business prospects and other factors that our board of directors considers relevant. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information regarding our financial condition. In addition, our credit facility contains restrictions on our ability to pay dividends.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

None.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Stock Performance Graph

This performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing of ours under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing.

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The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on an initial investment of $100 in our Class A common stock between September 21, 2016 (our initial trading day) and December 31, 2017, with the comparative cumulative total returns of the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index, Russell 2000 Index and NASDAQ 100 Index over the same period. As previously discussed, we have not paid any cash dividends and, therefore, the cumulative total return calculation for us is based solely upon stock price appreciation (depreciation) and not reinvestment of cash dividends, whereas the data for the S&P 500 Index, Russell 2000 Index and NASDAQ 100 Index assumes reinvestments of dividends. The graph assumes the closing market price on September 21, 2016 of $30.10 per share as the initial value of our Class A common stock. The returns shown are based on historical results and are not necessarily indicative of, nor intended to forecast, future stock price performance. For the fiscal year 2017, we added the NASDAQ 100 Index because the companies which comprise the NASDAQ 100 index align with our growing business.

 

 

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Item 6. Selected Financial Data

The following tables set forth our selected consolidated financial data for the periods indicated. We have derived the selected consolidated statements of operations data for 2015, 2016, and 2017 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2016 and 2017 from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected consolidated statements of operations data for 2014 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2014 and 2015 were derived from our audited consolidated financial statements that are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our future results.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

 

(in thousands, except per share data)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

44,548

 

 

$

113,836

 

 

$

202,926

 

 

$

308,217

 

Operating expenses (1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform operations

 

 

12,559

 

 

 

22,967

 

 

 

39,876

 

 

 

66,230

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

14,590

 

 

 

26,794

 

 

 

46,056

 

 

 

61,379

 

Technology and development

 

 

7,250

 

 

 

12,819

 

 

 

27,313

 

 

 

52,806

 

General and administrative

 

 

9,385

 

 

 

13,276

 

 

 

32,163

 

 

 

58,446

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

43,784

 

 

 

75,856

 

 

 

145,408

 

 

 

238,861

 

Income from operations

 

 

764

 

 

 

37,980

 

 

 

57,518

 

 

 

69,356

 

Total other expense, net

 

 

1,707

 

 

 

8,125

 

 

 

13,684

 

 

 

5,731

 

Income (loss) before income taxes

 

 

(943

)

 

 

29,855

 

 

 

43,834

 

 

 

63,625

 

Provision for (benefit from) income taxes

 

 

(948

)

 

 

13,926

 

 

 

23,352

 

 

 

12,827

 

Net income

 

$

5

 

 

$

15,929

 

 

$

20,482

 

 

$

50,798

 

Net income (loss) attributable to common

   stockholders (2)

 

$

 

 

$

8,764

 

 

$

(26,727

)

 

$

50,798

 

Net income (loss) per share attributable to common

   stockholders–basic (2)

 

$

 

 

$

0.85

 

 

$

(1.46

)

 

$

1.26

 

Net income (loss) per share attributable to common

   stockholders–diluted (2)

 

$

 

 

$

0.39

 

 

$

(1.46

)

 

$

1.15

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Non-GAAP Financial and Operating Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gross spend (3)

 

$

211,266

 

 

$

552,325

 

 

$

1,027,984

 

 

$

1,555,856

 

Gross billings (4)

 

$

201,804

 

 

$

529,975

 

 

$

990,561

 

 

$

1,491,742

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

17,315

 

 

$

4,047

 

 

$

133,400

 

 

$

155,950

 

 

Accounts receivable, net

 

 

78,364

 

 

 

191,943

 

 

 

377,240

 

 

 

599,565

 

 

Total assets

 

 

102,238

 

 

 

210,231

 

 

 

537,596

 

 

 

797,164

 

 

Accounts payable

 

 

58,293

 

 

 

108,461

 

 

 

321,163

 

 

 

490,377

 

 

Long-term debt, net of current portion

 

 

16,493

 

 

 

45,918

 

 

 

25,847

 

 

 

27,000

 

(5)

Total liabilities

 

 

80,372

 

 

 

171,885

 

 

 

373,216

 

 

 

551,581

 

 

Convertible preferred stock

 

 

27,997

 

 

 

24,204

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)

 

 

(6,131

)

 

 

14,142

 

 

 

164,380

 

 

 

245,583

 

 

 

(1)

Includes stock-based compensation expense as follows:

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Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Platform operations

 

$

14

 

 

$

71

 

 

$

756

 

 

$

2,674

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

50

 

 

 

127

 

 

 

1,707

 

 

 

6,261

 

Technology and development

 

 

909

 

 

 

85

 

 

 

1,513

 

 

 

6,661

 

General and administrative

 

 

3,572

 

 

 

91

 

 

 

1,080

 

 

 

5,721

 

Total

 

$

4,545

 

 

$

374

 

 

$

5,056

 

 

$

21,317

 

 

See Note 10 to our audited consolidated financial statements for more information regarding stock-based compensation expense.

(2)

See Note 3 to our audited consolidated financial statements for a description of the net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders and net income (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders—basic and diluted computations.

(3)

Gross spend includes the value of a client’s purchases through our platform plus our platform fee, which is a percentage of a client’s purchases through the platform. We review gross spend for internal management purposes to assess market share and scale, and to plan for optimal levels of support for our clients. Some companies in our industry report revenue on a gross basis or use similar metrics, so tracking our gross spend allows us to compare our results to the results of those companies. Gross spend does not represent our revenue reported on a GAAP basis. Our gross spend is influenced by the volume and characteristics of bids for advertising inventory won through our platform. We expect our revenue as a percentage of gross spend, which is sometimes referred to as take rate, to fluctuate due to the types of services and features selected by our clients through our platform and certain volume discounts. We track gross spend based on the location of our office servicing the respective clients. Other companies, including companies in our industry, may calculate gross spend or similarly titled measures differently, which reduces its usefulness as a comparative measure.

(4)

Gross billings represents the amount we invoice our clients, net of allowances. As some of our clients have payment relationships directly with advertising inventory suppliers for the amount of advertising inventory the clients purchase through our platform, we do not invoice these clients for this spend, and we only invoice such clients for data, other services and our platform fee. Accordingly, gross billings are less than gross spend and represent gross spend, less platform discounts and less the value of advertising inventory and data that our clients purchase directly from publishers through our platform. We report revenue on a net basis which represents gross billings net of amounts we pay suppliers for the cost of advertising inventory, data and add-on features. We expect our revenue as a percentage of gross billings to fluctuate due to the types of services and features selected by our clients through our platform and certain volume discounts. We review gross billings for internal management purposes to adequately plan for our working capital needs and monitor collection risk. We track gross billings based on the billing address of the client. In many cases, international clients are serviced from our U.S. offices resulting in gross billings exceeding gross spend for international clients.

(5)

In January 2018, we repaid the outstanding principal and accrued interest.

 

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with the consolidated financial statements and the related notes to those statements included in Item 8 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition to historical financial information, the following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates, beliefs, and expectations, and involve risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, particularly in the section titled “Item 1A. Risk Factors” and the “Special Note About Forward-Looking Statements”.

References to “Notes” are notes included in our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Overview

 

We are a global technology company that empowers ad buyers by providing a self-service omnichannel software platform that enables our clients to purchase and manage data-driven digital advertising campaigns. Our platform allows clients to manage integrated advertising campaigns across various advertising channels and formats, including connected TV (CTV), mobile, video, audio, display, social and native, on a multitude of devices, including smart TVs, computers, and various mobile devices including phones and tablets.

 

We commercially launched our platform in 2011 targeting display advertising. We have since extended our platform to address additional advertising formats, and in 2017, approximately 62% of gross spend on our platform was for mobile, video, audio, social, and native.

 

Our clients are the advertising agencies and other service providers for advertisers, with whom we enter into ongoing master services agreements, or MSAs. We generate revenue by charging our clients a platform fee based on a percentage of a client’s total spend on advertising, data and other features through our platform.

 

Executive Summary

Highlights

For the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017:

 

our revenue was $202.9 million and $308.2 million, respectively, representing an increase of 52%; and

 

our net income was $20.5 million and $50.8 million, respectively.

Trends, Opportunities and Challenges

The growing digitization of media and fragmentation of audiences has increased the complexity of advertising, and thereby increased the need for automation in ad buying, which we provide on our platform. In order to grow, we will need to continue to develop our platform’s programmatic capabilities and advertising inventory. We believe that key opportunities include our ongoing global expansion, continuing development of our CTV, native, audio and video ad inventory, and continuing development of our data usage and advertising targeting capabilities.

We believe that growth of the programmatic advertising market is important for our ability to grow our business. Adoption of programmatic advertising by advertisers allows us to acquire new clients and grow revenue from existing clients. Although our clients include some of the largest advertising agencies in the world, we believe there is significant room for us to expand further within these clients and gain a larger amount of their advertising spend through our platform. We also believe that the industry trends noted above will lead to advertisers adopting programmatic advertising through platforms such as ours.

Similarly, the adoption of programmatic advertising by inventory owners and content providers allows us to expand the volume and type of advertising inventory that we present to our clients. For example, we have expanded our CTV, native and audio advertising offerings through our recent integrations with supply-side partners.

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We plan to invest for long-term growth. We anticipate that our operating expenses will increase significantly in the foreseeable future as we invest in platform operations and technology and development to enhance our product features, including programmatic buying of CTV ad inventory, and in sales and marketing to acquire new clients and reinforce our relationships with existing clients. In addition, we expect to continue making investments in our infrastructure, including our information technology, financial and administrative systems and controls, to support our operations.

In addition, we believe the markets outside of the U.S. offer an opportunity for growth, and we intend to make additional investments in sales and marketing and product development to expand in these markets, including China, where we are making significant investments in launching our platform and growing our team.

We believe that these investments will contribute to our long-term growth, although they may negatively impact profitability in the near term.

Our business model has allowed us to grow significantly, and we believe that our operating leverage enables us to support future growth profitably.

Factors Affecting Our Performance

Growth in and Retention of Client Spend

 

Our recent growth has been driven by expanding our share of spend by our existing clients and adding new clients. Our clients include some of the largest advertising agencies in the world, and we believe there is significant room for us to expand further within these clients. As a result, future revenue growth depends upon our ability to retain our existing clients and to gain a larger amount of their advertising spend through our platform.

 

In order to analyze the contribution to the growth of our business driven by the increase in gross spend from existing clients, we measure annual gross spend for the set of clients, or cohort, that commenced spending on our platform in a specific year relative to subsequent periods. The gross spend from each of our cohorts has increased over subsequent periods. However, over time we will likely lose clients from each cohort, clients may spend less on our platform and the growth rate of gross spend may change. Any such change could have a significant negative impact on gross spend and operating results.

Ability to Expand our Omnichannel Reach, Including CTV and Digital Radio

We enable the purchase of advertising inventory in a wide variety of formats. Although display advertising represented 38% of our gross spend in 2017, non-display advertising such as mobile, video and social are significant and increasing components of our gross spend. Our future growth will depend on our ability to maintain and grow the inventory of, and spend on, other channels. In addition, we believe that our ability to integrate and offer CTV and digital radio advertising inventory for purchase through our platform, and in particular our ability to manage the increased costs that will accompany these purchases, will impact the future growth of our business.

Growth of the Programmatic Advertising Market

Our operating results and prospects will be impacted by the overall adoption of programmatic advertising by inventory owners and content providers, as well as advertisers and the agencies and service providers that represent them. Programmatic advertising has grown rapidly in recent years, and any acceleration, or slowing, of this growth would affect our operating and financial performance. In addition, even if the programmatic advertising market continues to grow at its current rate, our ability to position ourselves within the market will impact the future growth of our business.

Development of International Markets

We have been increasing our focus on markets outside the U.S. to serve the global needs of our clients. We believe that the global opportunity for programmatic advertising is significant due to the growing middle class abroad, and should continue to expand as publishers and advertisers outside the U.S. seek to adopt the benefits that programmatic advertising provides. To capitalize on this opportunity, we intend to continue investing in our presence internationally, and we expect our growth internationally to continue outpacing our domestic growth. Our growth and the success of our initiatives in newer markets will depend on the continued adoption of our platform by our existing clients, as well as new clients, in these markets. Information about geographic gross billings is set forth in Note 12 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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Seasonality

In the advertising industry, companies commonly experience seasonal fluctuations in revenue. For example, many advertisers allocate the largest portion of their budgets to the fourth quarter of the calendar year in order to coincide with increased holiday purchasing. Historically, the fourth quarter of the year reflects our highest level of advertising activity and the first quarter reflects the lowest level of such activity. We expect our revenue to continue to fluctuate based on seasonal factors that affect the advertising industry as a whole, and events such as the U.S. election cycle and the Olympics.

Components of Our Results of Operations

We have one primary business activity and operate in one operating and reportable segment.

Revenue

We generate revenue from clients who enter into agreements with us to use our platform to purchase advertising inventory, data and other add-on features.

We report revenue on a net basis which represents gross billings net of amounts we pay suppliers for the cost of advertising inventory, data and add-on features. Our accounts receivable are recorded at the amount of gross billings to clients, net of allowances, for the amounts we are responsible to collect, and our accounts payable are recorded at the amount payable to suppliers. Accordingly, both accounts receivable and accounts payable appear large in relation to revenue reported on a net basis.

Revenue as a percentage of gross spend may fluctuate from period to period due to a number of factors, such as changes in the proportion of spend represented by our larger customers with the lowest platform fees, our clients’ use of platform features and volume discounts. We expect that our revenue as a percentage of gross spend will fluctuate in the future, especially as we introduce and as our clients select new platform features, expand our omnichannel capabilities, extend our reach to TV inventory and add additional clients whose businesses may have different underlying business models.

See “Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates—Revenue Recognition” below for a description of our revenue recognition policies.

Operating Expenses

We classify our operating expenses into the following four categories:

Platform Operations. Platform operations expense consists of expenses related to hosting our platform, which includes “internet traffic” associated with the viewing of available impressions or queries per second (QPS) and providing support to our clients. Platform operations expense includes hosting costs, personnel costs, and amortization of acquired technology and capitalized software costs for the development of our platform, including allocated overhead. Personnel costs included in platform operations include salaries, bonuses, stock-based compensation, and employee benefit costs, and are primarily attributable to personnel who provide our clients with support using our platform and the network operations group that supports our platform. We capitalize certain costs associated with the development of our platform and amortize these costs in platform operations over their estimated useful lives. We allocate overhead such as information technology infrastructure, rent and occupancy charges based on headcount.

We expect platform operations expenses to increase in absolute dollars in future periods as we continue to experience increased volumes of QPS through our platform and hire additional personnel to support our clients.

Sales and Marketing. Sales and marketing expense consists primarily of personnel costs, including salaries, bonuses, stock-based compensation, employee benefits costs and commission costs for our sales and marketing personnel. Sales and marketing expense also includes costs for market development programs, advertising, promotional and other marketing activities, and allocated overhead. We allocate overhead such as information technology infrastructure, rent and occupancy charges based on headcount. Commissions costs are expensed as incurred.

Our sales organization focuses on marketing our platform to increase its adoption by existing and new clients. We are also focused on expanding our international business by growing our sales teams in countries in which we currently operate, as well as establishing a presence in additional countries. As a result, we expect sales and marketing expenses to increase in absolute dollars in future periods. Sales and marketing expense as a percentage of revenue may fluctuate from period to period based on revenue levels and the timing of our investments in our sales and marketing functions as these investments may vary in scope and scale over periods and are impacted by the revenue seasonality in our industry and business.

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Technology and Development. Our technology and development expense consists primarily of personnel costs, including salaries, bonuses, stock-based compensation and employee benefits costs, third-party consultant costs associated with the ongoing development and maintenance of our platform, amortization of capitalized third-party software used in the development of our platform and allocated overhead. We allocate overhead such as information technology infrastructure, rent and occupancy charges based on headcount. Technology and development costs are expensed as incurred, except to the extent that such costs are associated with software development that qualifies for capitalization, which are then recorded as capitalized software development costs included in other assets, non-current on our consolidated balance sheet. We amortize capitalized software development costs relating to our platform to platform operations expense.

We believe that continued investment in our platform is critical to attaining our strategic objectives and long-term growth. We therefore expect technology and development expense to increase as we continue to invest in the development of our platform to support additional features and functions, increase the number of advertising and data inventory suppliers and ramp up the volume of advertising spending on our platform. Our development efforts also include additional platform functionality to support our international expansion. We also intend to invest in technology to further automate our business processes.

General and Administrative. Our general and administrative expense consists primarily of personnel costs, including salaries, bonuses, stock-based compensation, and employee benefits costs associated with our executive, finance, legal, human resources, compliance, and other administrative personnel, as well as accounting and legal professional services fees, bad debt expense and allocated overhead. We allocate overhead such as information technology infrastructure, rent and occupancy charges based on headcount.

We expect to continue to invest in corporate infrastructure to support growth. We expect general and administrative expenses to increase in absolute dollars in future periods.

Other Expense, Net

Interest Expense. Interest expense is mainly related to our debt, which carries a variable interest rate.

Change in Fair Value of Convertible Preferred Stock Warrant Liabilities. Prior to our IPO, we had two outstanding warrants to purchase shares of our convertible preferred stock. These convertible preferred stock warrants were subject to re-measurement at each balance sheet date, and any change in fair value was recognized as a component of other expense, net. In connection with the closing of our IPO, the warrants converted into warrants to purchase shares of common stock and were net exercised by the holders. As a result, we no longer re-measure the value of warrants after our IPO.

Foreign Currency Exchange Loss, Net. Foreign currency exchange loss, net consists primarily of gains and losses on foreign currency transactions. We have foreign currency exposure related to our accounts receivable and, to a much lesser extent, accounts payable that are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar, principally the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, British Pound, Australian Dollar, Japanese Yen and Indonesian Rupiah.

Provision for Income Taxes

The provision for income taxes consists primarily of federal, state, and foreign income taxes. Our income tax provision may be significantly affected by changes to our estimates for tax in jurisdictions in which we operate and other estimates utilized in determining the global effective tax rate. Actual results may also differ from our estimates based on changes in economic conditions. Such changes could have a substantial impact on the income tax provision. We reevaluate the judgments surrounding our estimates and make adjustments, as appropriate, each reporting period.

Our effective tax rate differs from the U.S. federal statutory income tax rate due to stock-based compensation, research and development tax credits, federal and foreign tax rate differences, state taxes, fair value adjustments associated with our warrant liabilities, and adjustments to our valuation allowance.

Realization of our deferred tax assets is dependent primarily on the generation of future taxable income. In considering the need for a valuation allowance, we consider our historical, as well as future, projected taxable income along with other objectively verifiable evidence. Objectively verifiable evidence includes our realization of tax attributes, assessment of tax credits and utilization of net operating loss carryforwards during the year.

In 2017, we released all of our valuation allowance previously established against our U.K. net deferred tax assets of $0.3 million. Our decision to release the valuation allowance on our U.K. deferred tax assets was due to, among other reasons, our three-year cumulative pre-tax income adjusted for permanent items realized in U.K. jurisdictions and significant forecasted U.K. taxable income.

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Table of Contents

 

On December 22, 2017, "H.R.1," known as the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," was signed into law. The primary impact of H.R.1 on our consolidated results from operations for the year ended December 31, 2017 and consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2017 was the revaluation of deferred taxes by $0.6 million resulting from the reduction in the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%. Given cumulative overseas deficits, no liability for foreign earnings and profits has been established.

Results of Operations

The following tables set forth our consolidated results of operations and our consolidated results of operations as a percentage of revenue for the periods presented:

 

 

 

For the year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Revenue

 

$

113,836

 

 

$

202,926

 

 

$

308,217

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform operations

 

 

22,967

 

 

 

39,876

 

 

 

66,230

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

26,794

 

 

 

46,056

 

 

 

61,379

 

Technology and development

 

 

12,819

 

 

 

27,313

 

 

 

52,806

 

General and administrative

 

 

13,276

 

 

 

32,163

 

 

 

58,446

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

75,856

 

 

 

145,408

 

 

 

238,861

 

Income from operations

 

 

37,980

 

 

 

57,518

 

 

 

69,356

 

Total other expense, net

 

 

8,125

 

 

 

13,684

 

 

 

5,731

 

Income before income taxes

 

 

29,855

 

 

 

43,834

 

 

 

63,625

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

13,926

 

 

 

23,352

 

 

 

12,827

 

Net income

 

$

15,929

 

 

$

20,482

 

 

$

50,798

 

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

(as a percentage of revenue*)

 

Revenue

 

 

100

%

 

 

100

%

 

 

100

%

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform operations

 

 

20

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

21

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

24

 

 

 

23

 

 

 

20

 

Technology and development

 

 

11

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

17

 

General and administrative

 

 

12

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

19

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

67

 

 

 

72

 

 

 

77

 

Income from operations

 

 

33

 

 

 

28

 

 

 

23

 

Total other expense, net

 

 

7

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

2

 

Income before income taxes

 

 

26

 

 

 

22

 

 

 

21

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

12

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

4

 

Net income

 

 

14

%

 

 

10

%

 

 

16

%

 

*

Percentages may not sum due to rounding.

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2015, 2016 and 2017

Revenue

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016 vs 2015

Change

 

 

2017 vs 2016

Change

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands, except percentages)

 

Revenue

 

$

113,836

 

 

$

202,926

 

 

$

308,217

 

 

$

89,090

 

 

 

78

%

 

$

105,291

 

 

 

52

%

 

2016 Compared to 2015

The increase in revenue was primarily due to an 86% increase in gross spend on our platform. Gross spend on our platform by existing clients added prior to 2016 increased by 71% in the aggregate in 2016, and these existing clients represented approximately 91% of the total gross spend in 2016. In 2016, 55% of existing clients added prior to 2016 increased their gross spend on our platform and their average increase in gross spend was approximately $2.1 million.

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2017 Compared to 2016

The increase in revenue was primarily due to a 51% increase in gross spend on our platform. Gross spend on our platform by existing clients added prior to 2017 increased by 40% in the aggregate in 2017, and these existing clients represented approximately 91% of the total gross spend in 2017. In 2017, 59% of existing clients added prior to 2017 increased their gross spend on our platform and their average increase in gross spend was approximately $2.0 million.

Revenue as a percentage of gross spend in the aggregate may fluctuate from period to period based on our client mix and the extent to which clients utilize our platform’s features.

Platform Operations

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016 vs 2015

Change

 

 

2017 vs 2016

Change

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands, except percentages)

 

Platform operations

 

$

22,967

 

 

$

39,876

 

 

$

66,230

 

 

$

16,909

 

 

 

74

%

 

$

26,354

 

 

 

66

%

Percent of revenue

 

 

20

%

 

 

20

%

 

 

21

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Compared to 2015

The increase in platform operations expense was primarily due to increases of $11.5 million in hosting costs and $4.2 million in personnel costs, including $0.7 million of stock-based compensation. The increase in hosting costs was primarily attributable to supporting the increased use of our platform by our clients. The increase in personnel costs was primarily due to an increase in headcount for our client support team.

2017 Compared to 2016

 

The increase in platform operations expense was primarily due to increases of $17.6 million in hosting costs, $6.6 million in personnel costs, including $1.9 million of stock-based compensation, and $1.3 million in allocated facilities costs. The increase in hosting costs was primarily attributable to supporting the increased use of our platform by our clients. The increase in personnel costs was primarily due to an increase in headcount for our client support team. The increase in allocated facilities costs was primarily driven by an increase in rent expense associated with new operating leases to support our growth.

We expect platform operations expenses to increase in absolute dollars in future periods as we continue to experience increased volumes of transactions through our platform and hire additional personnel to support our clients.

Sales and Marketing

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016 vs 2015

Change

 

 

2017 vs 2016

Change

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands, except percentages)

 

Sales and marketing

 

$

26,794

 

 

$

46,056

 

 

$

61,379

 

 

$

19,262

 

 

 

72

%

 

$

15,323

 

 

 

33

%

Percent of revenue

 

 

24

%

 

 

23

%

 

 

20

%