• More on the Firefly Raise

    Firefly founders Kaan Gunay (CEO) and Onur Kardesler (CTO) in front of vehicles equipped with Firefly digital signs.

    Firefly operates a network of digital signs atop taxis and rideshare vehicles. On thursday Firefly announced  a $30 million raise from an investor group led by GV  (Google Ventures for those who don’t know the acronym).  The new money comes on top of a $21.5 million raise last December.    Insider talked with Firefly co-founder and CEO Kaan Gunay.

    How big is firefly now (e.g. number of screens deployed and in how many cities)?

    Firefly currently operates in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and now New York City, beginning June 1.   Our smart media network continues to grow rapidly, delivering over 200 million impressions per month and a total of 650,000 hours of content played across 40,000 square miles of coverage area.
    What will the company use the new money for?
    Firefly will use the new investment to broaden its work in digital display and expand into new markets, starting with NYC, marked by the strategic acquisition of the digital operations of STRONG Outdoor. With our proprietary ‘situationally-aware’ smart media displays, Firefly will continue its mission to connect people, governments and businesses with its dynamic smart media platform.
    What GV’s thesis for investing?
    GV backs companies that transform industries and create new ones, and the venture firm sees great potential in Firefly’s ability to harness the power of advertising and data to improve cities and their larger communities, as well as the people who live and work in them.
    “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.”
    Some communities like LA are opposing cartop and taxi top advertising. What’s necessary to convince them to change their minds?
    When I envision a smart city, I see a community that works for those that live and work within it, that blends public-private partnerships to benefit every pillar of a community. With Firefly, we’re building a smart city network that works for the city, to better the lives of all of the people that live and work within it.
    On one side, ride-share and taxi drivers continue to face an uphill battle, dealing with severe wage decline due to market stagnation and a myriad of other factors. According to a recent study, rooftop digital advertising has the potential to stimulate the LA economy by up to $16M.
    We’re not claiming digital rooftop ads are the magic solution to every problem facing taxi drivers, by any means — but an extra $3,600 per year with Firefly, without the need for additional hours on the road, certainly helps to alleviate strain. That extra income could simply be put toward basic necessities – gas money, car insurance – while, for some, it could mean the difference between financial security and hardship. We believe that all full-time drivers should be able to make a living wage and support their families.

    Plus, we work hand-in-hand with municipal governments to guarantee its platform generates positive social impact, donating inventory to nonprofit organizations, public sector PSAs, and other community-driven partners.
    Those leaders who want to better their communities, to continue to grow and optimize for the benefit of their constituents, won’t turn away from positive innovation.

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