Sprout Social Files for IPO to Enhance Enterprise Social Media Management Growth

Jon C. Ogg

It’s hard enough to keep up with personal social media activity. Imagine how hard it is for a business or an enterprise to manage marketing, sales, public relations and customer service throughout the world of social media. That is exactly what Sprout Social does as its business model. Sprout Social helps more than 23,000 customers centrally manage and evaluate those efforts.

Now Sprout Social has filed to come public via an initial public offering. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing lists it as up to $100 million in shares, but investors know that the figure may be higher or lower ahead. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the lead underwriters on the syndicate tombstone, followed by KeyBanc Capital Markets and William Blair, and then by Canaccord Genuity and Stifel. The company plans to list under the SPT equity ticker on the Nasdaq.

As with many of the recent IPO companies, Sprout Social will have two classes of public shares, and the co-founders will retain absolute control of all decisions in running the company.

The Class A rights and Class B rights will be identical, except when it comes to important issues such as voting, conversion and transfer rights. Those Class A common shares will be entitled to one vote each, while each Class B common share will be entitled to 10 votes and will be convertible at any time into one share of Class A common stock. The company’s co-founders will have large control over the company after its IPO, which means they will have the ability to control the outcome of effectively all shareholder matters that would otherwise require a vote.

Sprout Social claims to have some 23,000 customers in 100 countries that manage some 380,000 social media profiles with some 350 million messages per day. It counts over 16,400 of its customers in North America. The company’s platform was launched in 2011 and operates across social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google and YouTube. The company also claims in its filing that it had more than 9,000 new trials of its software per month (on average) from January of 2018 through September 30, 2019, and that over 95% of those were generated through unpaid marketing efforts.

Here are some basic stats about the company’s financial growth:

  • during the years ending 2017 and 2018 — revenue of $44.8 million (2017, 76% growth) and $78.8 million (2018, 54% organic growth);
  • in the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2019 — revenue was $56.5 million (2018, 32% growth) and $74.6 million (2019, or 49% organic growth);
  • generated over $100 million in total annualized recurring revenue as of September 30, 2019;
  • during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 — net losses of $21.9 million (2017) and $20.9 million (2018);
  • and for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2019 — net losses of $17.0 million (2018) and $21.0 million (2019).

This is how the company identifies its total addressable market opportunities ahead, using IDC data on businesses and organizations of all sizes:

We estimate that, based on our current average customer spending levels, the annual potential market opportunity for our solution is currently $13 billion in the United States and, with approximately 30% of our revenue coming from customers outside of the United States in 2018, we believe the opportunity internationally is at least as large. We also believe there is a significant opportunity to expand the use of our platform across our customers’ organizations and increase our average customer spending levels. If we assume spending levels reach the average for the top 10% of our current customers in each segment, our annual potential market opportunity increases to an estimated $51 billion in the United States.

Prior to the offering, co-founders Justyn Howard and Aaron Rankin hold the majority of the Class B shares (about 78.9% combined). Of the A Shares, the top holders are: entities affiliated with Goldman Sachs (35.5%), entities affiliated with New Enterprise Associates (30.9%), entities affiliated with Lightbank (21.0%) and AU Special Investments II L.P. (10.3%).