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Exclusive: Ad tech firm Aarki appoints leaders after Skillz spinoff

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Mar 20, 2024
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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Aarki announced on Wednesday its new leadership team after spinning off from publicly traded mobile gaming platform Skillz last year, CEO Aman Sareen exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: The ad tech firm has reset itself as an independent company to capture some of this year's estimated $402 billion in global mobile ad spending, per Data.ai.

Driving the news: New leaders include Lisa Hu as CFO, Avi Das as CRO, Chaitanya Upadhyay as CPO and Joe Zachariah as CTO.

Catch up quick: Founded in 2010, Aarki serves mobile marketers. It offers a demand-side platform and creative services and is building more AI-powered and privacy-focused tools.

  • Skillz, which trades on the NYSE with a market value of $98 million, acquired Aarki in July 2021 for about $157 million in cash and stock. In August 2023, Skillz spun out Aarki. It kept an 80% stake and invested $5 million.

Zoom in: Sareen joined Aarki in January 2023. He says he decided on a spinout a few months later because he wanted to refocus on product versus sales as a "small nimble company," offer employees equity in Aarki and serve Skillz's competitors as an independent firm.

  • "I realized that our product had actually fallen behind our competitors," Sareen says of his reason for a spinout. "Once the product is great, sales automatically comes."
  • Aarki went from about 200 employees under Skillz to now about 100 staffers with its headquarters in San Francisco and other offices in Bangalore and Manila. Sareen says about 70% of staffers are new. Some of the new leaders are Sareen's former colleagues at LG Ads and elsewhere.

What's next: Sareen has ambitious growth plans for Aarki, such as expanding the business to owning publishers and offering a supply-side platform. That could involve M&A.

  • He declined to share if Aarki is operating profitably but says it doesn't need to raise money at the moment.
  • Aarki plans to announce updates to its platform at MAU Vegas, a conference focused on apps, in April.
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