The Road Signs
Advertising billboards promoting a variety of innovative tech products and services have long been staple fixtures along the freeways and arterial roads of Silicon Valley. Over the decades, on many popular commuting routes, they have easily outnumbered the more traditional roadside marketing fare found elsewhere.
The commercial viability of such marketing campaigns is testament to the percentage of nerdy cognoscenti who are driving by, and for whom the messages are actually interpretable and make sense. In addition to promoting the latest components and tools to tech designers and engineers, the signs also serve to develop broad brand name recognition, but not just among the traditional early-adopter community. They also reach out to the venture capital industry heavyweights who play key roles in the investment decision-making process, as companies raise funds to expand their operational base and lay the groundwork for eventual acquisition or public offering.
Marqeta: Case Study
A case in point is fintech firm Marqeta, which is based in Oakland, CA and operates in the card issuance and payment processing sector. In January 2020, the company embarked upon a billboard campaign across the Bay Area, which promoted the rapidly-expanding number of payment cards it had issued. At that time, the private equity market had valued Marqeta at around $2B. Several months later, the next fund-raising round valued it at almost $4.5B.
Now, barely a year after that, Marqeta’s recent filing for an IPO has encouraged analysts to value it as one of the hottest on the private market, and private market trading has valued the company in the $16B — $17B range.
After the IPO announcement on May 14, CNBC observed that the company “has become one of the hottest businesses in digital commerce, even though few consumers have ever heard of it.”
That could hardly be said of the daily commuters on the Bay Area’s freeways.
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