• Firefly Raises $30 million to grow rideshare/taxi digital sign business

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (May 30, 2019) — Firefly, the company connecting people, governments, and businesses with its dynamic smart media platform, today announced a $30 million Series A led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) with participation from NFX. The new investment will fuel Firefly’s growth, supporting expansion to more communities, and driving continued innovation in digital display. In tandem, the company is announcing its acquisition of the digital operations of STRONG Outdoor, marking its expansion to New York City.

    Since Firefly launched out of stealth in December 2018, notable brands like Brex, Segment, Caviar, and Zumper have quickly adopted the company’s proprietary vehicle-mounted media platform to drive campaign results. The company’s ‘situationally aware’ digital smart screens determine campaign direction and ad frequency based on driver routes, area demographics and traffic patterns. According to a recent Firefly measurement study, individuals who saw Firefly Brex creatives were twice as likely to visit Brex’s website than individuals who did not see the ads.

    “Firefly is creating a significant new ad format at scale,” said Adam Ghobarah, General Partner at GV. “In addition to taxis, the scale of rideshare networks has created a large opportunity to provide digital out of home advertising with granular city-block and time targeting. Kaan, Onur and the Firefly team have executed very well so far, and are motivated by the long-term mission of enabling cities with data.”

    In expanding to New York, Firefly extends its operating system to the city’s network of taxis, the market’s only form of mobile advertising at scale. Already operating on taxis in California, the move extends Firefly’s innovative software to New York’s existing taxi-tops. In acquiring STRONG’s digital operations in New York City, Firefly secures ownership of the company’s digital taxi top advertising deal with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT). Through STRONG’s digital assets, Firefly enters New York City with an established presence, while at the same time driving growth and evolution in the city’s media landscape.

    Firefly founders Kaan Gunay (CEO) and Onur Kardesler (CTO)

    “We are excited about the potential for growth in digital advertising and we believe that Firefly, led by CEO Kaan Gunay, is the right team and platform to combine with our digital platform in New York City. We look forward to being significant shareholders in Firefly and benefiting from the growth in digital at Firefly while maintaining our significant market presence in non-digital advertising at STRONG,” said Kyle Cerminara, CEO of Fundamental Global and Chairman of STRONG Outdoor.

    Win-Win-Win

    Firefly’s pioneering approach is a win for cities, brands, and citizens. By delivering highly effective advertising campaigns using geo-targeted technology, Firefly is driving the next generation of advertising technology, all while helping boost income for taxi drivers, rideshare and last-mile delivery drivers in the gig economy. With a community-driven approach, Firefly is supporting an industry that has long been struggling with increased market saturation and, in turn, wage stagnation. Supporting the financial success of the rideshare and taxi industries alike, the company offers an additional revenue stream for full-time drivers to maximize returns on their drive time.

    “We believe that all full-time drivers in New York, taxi and rideshare, should be able to make a living wage and support their families,” expounded Kaan Gunay, co-founder and CEO of Firefly. “By combining our Firefly operating system with STRONG’s existing digital network, we’re able to immediately scale upon market entry so we can support the New York community with no downtime.”

    The company works hand in hand with municipal governments to guarantee its platform generates positive social impact. Additionally, Firefly participates in the AMBER alert system and supports the Ad Council, a non-profit organization that produces national public service campaigns, by running their PSAs pro bono in California, with plans to extend to New York. At the same time, a minimum of 10 percent of inventory is devoted to other community-driven partners such as local businesses, non-profits, and local government entities. Firefly is changing the scope of what media networks can do, blending public and private partnerships to elevate the community in which it operates.

    The new round brings the company’s total funding to $51.5 million and will support continued innovation in Firefly’s model, such as scaling its operating system to new formats and markets. Drivers, governments and advertisers interested in learning more about Firefly, visit Fireflyon.com.

    About Firefly
    Firefly connects cities with its dynamic smart media platform.The company works with taxi companies and rideshare drivers to install its proprietary advertising displays atop their vehicles, providing an additional revenue stream to maximize their drive time. Firefly’s technology delivers the right message at the right time, cutting through the noise of a booming space and leading to highly effective campaign-engagement. These proprietary screens are customized and enabled to geo-local advertising based on driver routes and location. Founded by Kaan Gunay (CEO) and Onur Kardesler (CTO), Firefly is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Istanbul. To learn more: Fireflyon.com.

    About Ballantyne Strong, Inc., STRONG Outdoor and Fundamental Global
    Founded in 1932, Ballantyne Strong, Inc. (NYSE American: BTN) is a global leader in digital media solutions and cinema products and services. Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Ballantyne Strong, Inc. is responsible for tens of thousands of signs and screens globally. STRONG Outdoor, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ballantyne Strong, Inc. controls nearly half of the traditional and premium taxi top advertising inventory in the New York City market. STRONG Outdoor entered the New York City market in 2018 by taking-over roughly half of the traditional and premium taxi top advertising inventory in the New York City market. Today, STRONG has over 3,200 traditional static tops. Fundamental Global is Ballantyne Strong’s largest shareholder and is an investment management firm that manages equity, fixed income and alternative funds and strategies.


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