Mozoo UK confirms liquidation proceedings amid the widely anticipated 'adtech contraction'

Mobile adtech company Mozoo has confirmed to The Drum that it has started voluntary liquidation proceedings – a sign that despite the continued growth in the digital advertising sector, competition remains intense.

Mozoo stated that the proceedings do not apply to its operations outside of the UK

France-based Mozoo also has offices in the US, and China with the current proceedings restricted to the UK, where it operates two brands Numbate and Surikate. A statement sent to The Drum by a company spokesman confirms that it had ceased trading as of January 19 and that steps are being taken to place the company into creditors’ voluntary liquidation.

"Mozoo UK Limited is owned by parent group Mozoo SAS. Since Mozoo SAS acquired an AI-powered monetisation [sic] SDK that boosts ad revenue for mobile publishers, in 2017, the groups [sic] core focus has been on developing and growing the technology for publishers," reads the statement.

"As a result Mozoo SAS could no longer fund the operating costs and losses of Mozoo UK, resulting in voluntary liquidation. All other Mozoo activities are in no way effected, and Mozoo remain[s] dedicated to increasing ad revenue for mobile publishers – in-app and mobile web."

Mozoo’s Companies House profile still lists the company as “active” and a letter addressed to its creditors, dated January 26, obtained by The Drum claims the decision date for the nomination of liquidators has been fixed for February 12.

This has also been accompanied by claims of a round of redundancies in Mozoo’s recent history made by professed ex-employees in recent weeks, with several of its currently listed senior employees known to have commenced employment elsewhere.

An early stage adtech start-up, Mozoo was founded by chief executive Jules Minvielle, and was listed as having a headcount just shy of 100. Although it remains unclear as to how many these employees were employed by Mozoo UK, and in August 2017 it acquired in-app mediation specialist AdinCube as part of a deal then valued at $20m to bolster its AI capabilities.

Prior to a 2016 branding overhaul to its current guise, Mozoo had been active in the UK since 2012 and had raised approximately $1.8m in funding with the company specializing in helping publishers to monetize their mobile ad inventory by aggregating the demand from ad networks plus ad exchanges.

Mobile and programmatic ad spend are the two main drivers of the overall digital advertising sector with the total amount spent on mobile advertising surpassing €7bn last year according to IAB Europe numbers.

However, the sector is ultra-competitive, with Facebook and Google, aka “the duopoly”, collectively representing close to 60% of the global market value, according to eMarketer data, meaning all other players in the space have relatively little to compete for.

Mozzo’s liquidation measures come almost two years after fellow mobile advertising pioneer Byyd (formerly known as Adfonic) filed for administration following its own pivot from an ad network model to becoming a mobile specialist demand-side platform (DSP).

Sources commenting at the time on Byyd's eventual demise described how it is not uncommon for adtech startups to fail, with some noting how the DSP space is a difficult one to occupy, as many companies in the ecosystem don't pay promptly – a scenario that can often cause companies some distress.

Companies in the adtech space currently face multiple headwinds with brands and media owners widely acknowledged to be downsizing their adtech supply-chain. This is in addition to increased competition from scaled players such as Google, etc, as well as restrictions posed by the upcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) plus other factors.

Figures from Fast Pay, a company that provides outfits loans to those in the media landscape based on their insertion/orders and in return for repayment plus interest at a later date, show that adtech companies and "publisher networks" make up over 60% of its business (see chart below).

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