The boy wonder of online advertising entrepreneurs is planning a 2013 IPO for RadiumOne, his third successful venture, according to an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We’re three years into [RadiumOne], with 200 employees worldwide,” Gurbaksh Chahal told the Chronicle. “We’re growing faster than any of my other companies. I think 12 months from now, we’ll be in a prime position to be an IPO candidate for Wall Street.”
RadiumOne is a company that uses reward points to induce active social networkers to refer acquaintances to advertiser’s products and services. Chahal sees the strategy as the ultimate way to leverage the influence of a core group of social networkers into an efficient marketing force.
“It’s not about how many friends you have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter,” said Chahal. “It’s really about what you share, and who interacts with it.
“The premise is to look at raw social activity on the Internet, and take the right data from there to make advertising smarter.”
So far the investment community is taking to the concept. RadiumOne’s most recent round of investment financing placed the company’s value at around $500 million as of March.
Chahal was born on July 17, 1982 in Tarn Taran Sahib in Punjab, India. In 1985 his parents won the Green Card Lottery for a visa for America through the Diversity Visa (DV) program. They arrived in San Jose, California when Chahal was four.
Chahal was just 16 when he dropped out of high school in December of 1998 to devote full-time energies to ClickAgent, his online cost-per-click banner advertising network. On November 1, 2000 he sold it to ValueClick for $40 million in stock.
As soon as his three-year noncompete agreement with ValueClick expired Chahal started BlueLithium, a behavioral targeting banner network, on January 12, 2004. Essentially, the company logged data about a user’s visits to an advertiser’s site to keep feeding him more banners from the same advertiser. While the concept has annoyed many netizens, Yahoo thought it was promising enough to pay Chahal $300 million in cash for the company in October of 2007.
Chahal launched gWallet in September 2009 with the aim of pioneering a new category of online advertising based on using virtual rewards for filling out online preference surveys. It was later shifted to focus more on referrals from users of sites like Twitter and Facebook and renamed RadiumOne.
Chahal has written a book and appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show and on the reality television show “Secret Millionaire.” After the mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple he launched a nonprofit called BeProud dedicated to ending hate crimes.