Hootsuite nabs $50M in growth capital for its social media management platform, passes 16M customers

Over the last several years, social media has become a critical and central way for businesses to communicate, and market to, their customers. Now, one of the startups that helped spearhead this trend has raised a round of growth funding to expand its horizons. Hootsuite, the Vacouver-based social media management company that counts some 16 million businesses as customers, said today that it has raised $50 million in growth capital — specifically through a credit financing agreement — from CIBC Innovation Banking.

We asked Ryan Holmes, the co-founder and CEO, for details about its valuation and funding, and said that it will be used for more acquisitions in the near future, and with it the valuation is unchanged.

“We opted for to go with non-dilutive credit at this point and found a great partner and terms in CIBC,” he wrote in an email. “The company is cash flow positive and the facility will primarily be reserved for M&A purposes. There is no associated valuation, however our latest 409a is up from last year and growth is very strong.”

Notably, the last time Hootsuite raised money — way back in 2014 — the company was already valued at $1 billion. For some context, at the time it had 10 million businesses as customers, and today it has 16 million including what it says is 80 percent of the Fortune 1000, so it’s likely that its valuation has grown as well.

“This financing is a testament to the strong fundamentals behind Hootsuite and our ongoing commitment to innovation and growth as the clear leader in social media management,” said Greg Twinney, CFO of Hootsuite, in a statement. “The additional capital will help us scale even faster to bring the most innovative products and partnerships to market globally and help our customers strategically build their brands, businesses and customer relationships with social.”

The funding, according to the release, will also be used to expand its business in Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. It also plans to add in more tools to serve the needs of specific verticals like financial services, government and healthcare.

You may not know the name Hootsuite but you might recognise its mascot — an owl — and more specifically its corresponding shortened link — it starts with ‘’ — that is used a lot on Twitter, the social network that gave Hootsuite its first customers and ubiquity.

Things have moved along quite a bit since those early days, when Hootsuite first started as a side project for Holmes, who himself was running a marketing and advertising agency when he started it.

Social media is now the fastest-growing category for marketing spend — partly because of the popularity of social networking services like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter; and partly because “eyeballs” can be better tracked and quantified on these networks over more legacy channels like print and outdoor ads. At the same time, presenting yourself as a business on a social network is getting harder and harder. Sites like Facebook are focused on trying to improve engagement, and that is leading it to rethink how it shares and emphasizes posts that are not organically created by normal people. On the other side, we’re seeing a new wave of privacy and data protection regulation come in that will change how data can be used across and within these sites.

All of this means that Hootsuite, and others that it competes with, need to get a lot smarter about what it offers to its customers, and how it offers it.

Starting as a modest tool that plugged into Twitter, Hootsuite itself now integrates with just about all of the major social platforms, most recently finally adding Instagram earlier this month. Its customers use a dashboard to both monitor a variety of social media platforms to track how their companies are being discussed, and also to send out messages to the world. And they now use that dashboard and Hootsuite for a growing array of other purposes, from placing ads to content marketing to analytics across an increasing number of platforms — a range of services that Hootsuite has developed both in-house and by way of acquisition.

One challenge that Hootsuite has had over the years has been the company’s focus on the freemium model, and how to convert its initially non-paying users into paying tiers with more premium offerings. Some of that expansion into new services appears to have helped tip the balance.

“In the past year, Hootsuite has seen tremendous growth from acquisitions like AdEspresso, to strategic partnerships with market leaders such as Adobe, to recognitions such as being named a leader in the Forrester Wave and G2 Crowd,” said Holmes in a statement. “This financing allows Hootsuite in continuing to create strong value for customers looking to unlock the power of social.”

Another challenge has been the fundamental fact that Hootsuite relies on third parties to essentially “complete” its offering: Hootsuite offers analytics and tools for marketing, but still needs to connect into social networks and their data pools in order to do that.

This makes the company somewhat dependent on the whims of those third parties. So, for example, if Twitter decides to either increase the fees it charges to Hootsuite, or tries to offer its own analytics and thereby cuts off some of Hootsuite’s access, this impacts the company.

One solution to this is to continue to integrate as many other platforms as possible, to create a position where its stronger because of the sum of its parts. Unsurprisingly, Hootsuite also says that some of the funding will be used to increase its partnerships and integrations.

More generally, we are seeing a trend of consolidation in the area of social media management, as several smaller, and more focused solutions are brought together under one umbrella to improve economies of scale, and also to build out that “hub” strategy, becoming more indispensable, by virtue of providing so much utility in one place.

As part of that trend, we’ve seen two of Hootsuite’s rivals, Sprinklr and (not an owl but another bird of prey), also grow by way of a spate of acquisitions.


Facebook is the latest tech giant to hunt for AI talent in Canada

 Facebook is turning its attention to Canada with a new AI research office in Montreal. Google and Microsoft already have outposts in the city and countless other tech companies, including Uber, have researchers based in Canada. McGill University’s Joelle Pineau will be leading Facebook’s AI efforts in Montreal. Pineau’s research focus tends to lean heavily on robotics and… Read More


Canada’s Assent Compliance raises $31.4M Series B round to help businesses stay in compliance

 Assent Compliance isn’t in a sexy space. The company focuses on helping enterprises collect the necessary data to keep their global supply chains in compliance with local and international regulations. But while that may not sound like the most exciting space to be in, the company today announced that it has raised a $40 million CAD Series B round. Read More


Microsoft launches Azure preview in Germany and Canada, announces DoD-specific regions in U.S.

microsoft logo Late last year, Microsoft announced it would start hosting its Azure cloud computing platform and some of its other cloud-based services out of local data centers in both Germany and Canada. Both of these new regions, Azure Canada and Azure Germany, are now officially in preview. To ensure data sovereignty in Germany, Microsoft partnered with Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems as its… Read More


Writing Out Of My Comfort Zone – Katherine Dell

Harmless_JustFrontCover_Final This week, friend and author Katherine Dell is taking over my blog to tell you about her intriguing, upcoming book. Over to you, Kathy…

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about stepping out of my comfort zone. I talked about facing my fears and taking the plunge into the uncertain, because … great things don’t come from inside your comfort zone! That blog post was centered on me finally learning to ski, which for some reason, I was petrified to learn how. Hey, turning into a human snow boulder is a real fear! It could happen! Any who, I’m getting distracted from what I really wanted to talk about … writing out of your comfort zone!

In my novel, Harmless, I’ve taken a daring step and written out of my comfort zone.  Sure, writing, sharing and publishing  a book is not always roses. We all know that. But have you ever considered writing on a topic that might be a little touchy? Why would anyone choose to write about something that could prove difficult? Well, as any writer might tell you, when the muse takes you, you’ve got to write it.

I’m fascinated by Canadian Native folklore. For my novel, I was inspired by the northeastern folklore about wendigos, and the western lore about white spirit animals. Both the wendigo and spirit animal stories are based in both fact and lore.

When Canada was first settled, the first reported cases of wendigo syndrome were recorded. The syndrome being, people resorted to cannibalism in an effort to survive the harsh winters. In Canada, there were wendigo hunters, similar to the witch hunters in the southern United States. The Hunter captured and killed those with wendigo syndrome.


The Native population, on the other hand, believed that these people with the syndrome were possessed by an evil spirit and that they could be cured. I also found lore about the afflicted not eating their victims, but taking their souls.

Sounds pretty dark, I know, but this is only what inspired my work, not the whole story.

To lighten things up, I incorporated uplifting tales about spirit animals. Instead of coloured fur or feathers, spirit animals are born completely white. Scientifically speaking, it’s a recessive gene that removes pigment. These animals are very rare, showing up around the world in various species. Curiously enough, there is a large population of spirit animals (white bears) in northern British Columbia. They are black bears born white, and named Kermode bears.


So with all this inspiration, I had a great story in mind! But I was faced with the sensitive realities of drawing lines between truth and fiction, while incorporating Native cultural lore that spanned a whole country. How was I to make sure I kept respect for the original culture while knitting my own characters and plot into it? I researched, I traveled, I consulted with people who knew more than me, and I edited.

I took all this ‘muse’ and created something that I hope is respectful, while also entertaining. It still gives me butterflies to think it might offend someone, but then again, I think I’ve done my due diligence with the best of intentions. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and written something I’m proud of, daring to go where some would not.

Here’s to hoping it turns out well and if not, I leave you with this quote.

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”  Jo Godwin

Happy writing everyone!

Katherine Dell

Graeme's note: Kathy's book, and the research and inspiration behind it, sounds fascinating. Follow her to learn more and to get first news of a publication date. I for one, can't wait to read it.

Katherine (42)Katherine Dell

Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction writer working on her first novel. She also hopes to publish a prequel, graphic novel series to her novel series, Harmless. Katherine takes every opportunity to hone her skills as a writer, including courses from Mount Royal University, workshops and reading everything she can get her hands on. She is also a member of the Alberta Writers Guild. Katherine has called Alberta home her entire life, currently residing in Calgary with her husband and two sons.

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LinkedIn Buys Careerify To Build Out Its Big Data Recruitment Business

linkedin-logo LinkedIn has made another acquisition to build out its big data recruitment business. It’s acquired Careerify, a startup based out of Toronto, Canada, that focuses on software for businesses to hire people.
Two of Careerify’s products — an employer branding software product (intended to help companies appear more attractive to prospective candidates) and “internal… Read More

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