Jul 29, 2019

Member Spotlight | Bidtellect


Bidtellect Delray Beach | Palm Beach Tech Member Spotlight

Business: Bidtellect is a performance platform for the content-driven marketer: one platform to execute Native campaigns across all formats and devices including text, imagery, and video with unparalleled scale.

HQ: Delray Beach; offices in Manhattan and San Francisco.

Founded: 2013

Team: John Ferber, Chairman; Lon Otremba, CEO; Jason Boshoff, COO;  Michael Conway, CTO.

No of employees: 60, of which 29 work in the Delray headquarters.

Website: Bidtellect.com


Bidtellect was built by pioneers in the advertising technology industry.

The Delray Beach-based technology company was founded by John Ferber. Before digital advertising even existed, he created advertising.com and sold it to AOL in 2004 for about $435 million.

After that, Ferber saw another opportunity in the rapidly evolving digital advertising space: The mounting consumer frustration with banner and popup ads that were proliferating websites.

Ferber started Bidtellect in 2013  to build a cutting-edge programmatic Native advertising display platform, the beginnings of what it is today. He sought out industry veteran Lon Otremba, who led the team at AOL that bought Ferber’s technology years before, to join him in Delray Beach as Bidtellect’s CEO.

Bidtellect is now one of the largest suppliers of Native Ads in the ecosystem, with 10 billion Native auctions daily and access to 58 million distinctly targetable placements across the web, as well as unique optimization capabilities to ensure engagement.

 “Our mission is to be the leading paid content distribution platform which gives marketers one place to distribute their content,” explained Michael Conway, Bidtellect’s CTO, in an interview. “Our differentiator is that we wrote our algorithm so that we optimize the placement of the ad. We don’t waste ad spend for our clients.”

How that works today: In real time bidding, Bidtellect bids on those optimum placements, deciding how to bid and the price to bid based on who will be shown the ad – all that happens within a 100th of a second, Conway said.

“We have transformed Bidtellect in the last two years into one of the best delivery platforms through our machine learning and real time optimization algorithms. We combine our own data and observations of people’s uses as well as third party data targeting and we go head to head with demand-side platforms out there and we continually outpace them and meet our customers’ goals.”

Today, the venture-backed company is a team of 68 with multiple offices around the country serving brands including Microsoft, Toyota, Sony, Hilton and Walgreens. Bidtellect outgrew its Atlantic Avenue offices, so it is now relocating to the former Office Depot headquarters off Congress, a space that is twice as large.

This spring the company completed a massive infrastructure upgrade to meet growing advertiser demand.

“The infrastructure was 5 years old and wasn’t keeping up. We had to do something to survive our trajectory,” Conway said. “We went out and replaced 90 percent of our infrastructure on the fly with a minimum of downtime. We more than tripled our queries per second and 3½X our ability to bid.”

The undertaking took the Bidtellect technology team 32 days of nonstop working, including sleepless nights and 40 hour sprints in which the team would take turns napping. The massive overhaul was completed without interrupting business-as-usual, Conway said, adding that the undertaking was akin to changing four tires on a car while speeding 80 mph on the highway – and not crashing.

The heroic effort by the tech team of 18, including both software and network engineers, didn’t surprise Conway.

“Head to head, we have differentiated ourselves and become a state of the art tech company through our optimization, that’s what we are known for. We have a huge customer retention rate now, and we are stealing money from Facebook and Google and that’s a good thing. I’ve just excited to be down here.”

Conway arrived in May 2017 from AOL in Baltimore, where he was senior director of technology. His community work includes helping Palm Beach Tech and he is also president of the Executive Advisory Committee for FAU’s College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. It’s an industry board that helps drive the curriculum for what’s needed in the community. Also, Bidtellect and FAU have a sponsored research agreement for R&D on its machine learning algorithms.

“I was pleasantly shocked that there is tremendous opportunity and also tremendous talent coming out of the universities here. That’s why I got involved in Palm Beach Tech and FAU. I think there is nothing but growth here,” said Conway, who added that since he’s arrived he has added five to the tech team and they have all been local hires.

Still, brain drain is a challenge, as students are lured to tech hubs in other parts of the country with better paying salaries. Palm Beach Tech is focused on stemming the tide and is making progress building awareness and supporting the local tech community’s development, he said.

 “We have to make the investment and compete with salaries or other benefits but we also have to continue to grow the tech industry down here to give them more interesting things to do. … Everyone loves the fact that Magic Leap is down in South Florida, but there are so many other great technical firms down here and we just need to make it known.”

Bidtellect Delray Beach | Palm Beach Tech Member Spotlight