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Social ad company Smartly.io sells a majority stake to Providence Equity Partners

Anthony Ha

Smartly.io, a company helping advertisers automate their campaigns across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, has sold a majority stake to Providence Equity Partners for €200 million (approximately $223 million).

Helsinki-headquartered Smartly.io says it automates ad production, ad buying "and everything in between." Founded in 2013, the company has more than 350 employees across 16 global offices, and it estimates that it will see €2.5 billion in ad spend moving through the platform this year. Advertisers include Uber, eBay, Under Armour and Samsonite.

That's particularly impressive given the company's relatively modest amount of outside funding — $22.8 million, according to Crunchbase. Investors include Lifeline Ventures and Highline Europe (through a secondary round).

“By partnering with Providence, Smartly.io gains invaluable strategic advisory, deep operational experience and market insight, especially in the U.S. where major Fortune 500 companies are only starting to automate their creative processes,” said Smartly.io founder and CEO Kristo Ovaska in the announcement.

The companies say that as part of the deal, Smartly.io's founders Ovaska and Chief Product Officer Tuomo Riekki will maintain "significant ownership," and will continue to lead the company. Providence Operating Partner Laura Desmond (who currently serves on the boards of Adobe, DoubleVerify and Capgemini) will become chairperson of the board of directors.

“Smartly.io is uniquely positioned to play a lead role in a market where brand and performance work is converging," Desmond said in a statement. "Together, we intend to grow the Company’s presence in the U.S. and globally, expand to other platforms, and build relationships with brands and their partners to create value for all.”

Facebook ad optimization startup Smartly.io targets U.S. growth after $20M secondary funding