Kargo is profitable and debt-free and in 2016 will generate more than $100 million in revenue.
Location: Union Square
2012 revenue: $7 million
2015 revenue: $94 million
Growth Rate: 1,245%
Local employees: 119
Total employees: 169
What it does Creates ads for smartphones
How it grew Harry Kargman launched Kargo in 1999, only to see the software company flop when the Nasdaq bubble popped a few years later.
Undeterred, Kargman changed direction and in 2004 started selling ringtones for cellphones—until the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 blew up that business. So he changed tack again and turned Kargo into a host for magazine websites and tried to sell online advertising. That didn’t take either, so about four years ago, Kargman turned his company’s focus toward creating ads that appear on smartphones. At long last, Kargo found its niche. “It only took about a dozen years to become an overnight success,” Kargman quipped.
Kargo specializes in turning concepts from clients like Proctor & Gamble or ad agency Publicis into ads that people won’t be inclined to click away from. Kargo-made ads now appear on websites owned by Hearst, NBC, Vice and other media powerhouses.
Kargo is profitable and debt-free and in 2016 will generate more than $100 million in revenue. What’s more, it has no outside shareholders after Kargman, 42, bought out his venture capital investors in 2008 and allocated their equity to his employees. The absence of impatient VCs anxious for a big payday gives Kargo time to invest in research and development, and Kargman reckons he has 90 engineers and product developers working on projects that aren’t generating revenue—yet.
Earlier this year, Kargman’s firm started licensing its technology—a move he figured would save time, and emails—while clients made advertising decisions. Licensing sales got off to a slow start but now account for a significant chunk of revenue that figures to grow in the coming years.”This company has already been through four pivots over its life,” Kargman said. “Maybe we’re now onto our fifth.”
Photo caption: Harry Kargman: A CEO who isn’t afraid of change.