Smart TV Adtech Firm MNTN Raises $119 Million As Streaming Explodes

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Smart TV Adtech Firm MNTN Raises $119 Million As Streaming Explodes
Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash
  • Investment giants BlackRock and Fidelity led the funding for “Mountain,” which has offices in Culver City and helps brands advertise through TV streaming apps.

MNTN, an adtech company specializing in the growing connected TV or “smart TV” market, has raised $119 million in a Series D funding round co-led by BlackRock and Fidelity.


Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and Fidelity collectively invested $110 million, MNTN (pronounced “Mountain”) said Tuesday. The company—which is headquartered in Austin, Texas but has an office in Culver City—had previously raised more than $82 million, according to PitchBook data, from investors including Baroda Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Mercato Partners, Qualcomm and Rincon Venture Partners.

MNTN sells software that lets brands buy connected TV ads and track their performance in real time. The company expanded into the creative process last year when it acquired actor Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Marketing, the advertising agency behind viral ads for Match and Mint Mobile. Reynolds is now MNTN’s chief creative officer.

Connected TVs, also known as smart TVs, feature streaming apps that allow viewers to access services like Netflix and Hulu directly through their television. The connected TV ad market grew nearly 60% last year, to $14.4 billion, as consumers continued to ditch traditional cable for online streaming, according to Insider Intelligence. There was also more advertising space available thanks to the launch and expansion of ad-supported streaming services, such as NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’s Paramount+.

MNTN claims its platform makes running connected TV ads as simple as advertising through online search engines or social media, allowing clients to reach audiences at streaming networks including CNN, Discovery+, ESPN, Hulu and Food Network. With its recent acquisitions of Maximum Effort and video creation platform QuickFrame, the firm now offers creative production services, as well.

In a statement, MNTN CEO Mark Douglas said the company “could not ask for a bigger vote of confidence” than the backing of BlackRock and Fidelity, two of the world’s largest institutional investors. The Series D round will help MNTN invest in its “platform, products and people,” CFO Patrick Pohlen added.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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