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September 29, 2015

Will InMobi Continue to Rejoice its Spurning of Google's $1-B Offer?

Silicon Valley lore has several famous episodes of acquisition talks that did not materialize: from that of Google by Excite (whose CEO apparently refused to pay up $75,000) and by Yahoo (when the Google founders walked away from a $3-B offer) and that of Yahoo (for $44.6 B) by Microsoft.

In March 2015, the lore extended to Indian shores when,  InMobi - which dares to combat Google and Facebook in the mobile advertising segment - walked away from a $1 billion offer from the search engine giant (according to multiple media reports, sample: Business Insider).

Will InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari's decision to walk away turn out as well as that of Google's own or more Yahoo like? Only time will tell. But questions are being raised as to why, when other Indian startups like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola are able to attract investments at  valuations of multiple billions of dollars with seeming ease over the last couple of years, hasn't InMobi (that last raised a reported $200 million in 2011 from SoftBank at a $800 million valuation) joined the "Unicorn" party?

The Economic Times of today (September 29, 2015) has a not too flattering report saying InMobi has attracted $100 million in debt funding from US-based Tennenbaum Capital that would be also used to repay debt that the company had borrowed from other creditors last year.

So, who exactly is InMobi's latest backer, Tennenbaum Capital?

This is how the firm describes itself on its LinkedIn page:
Tennenbaum Capital Partners takes a private equity approach to distressed credit investing. Having invested over $8 billion in more than 160 companies since 1996, TCP is a leader in successfully taking positions in private and public middle-market companies's debt, both in the secondary market and through special-situation private originations.
On its web site, the firm describes its Investment Strategies as two fold:
TCP invests in both performing credit and special situations, primarily in North American middle-market companies. 
Here's hoping that InMobi - an early poster child of India's second startup wave - continues to perform more than just creditably and sail smoothly into publicly traded status that it's CEO believes it deserves.

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