HootSuite aims high as it secures $165-million funding agreement to expand

HootSuite, the Vancouver-based social media analytics firm that has been growing in leaps and bounds, plans to get a whole lot bigger after it secured a major financing agreement.

The company said Thursday that it has raised US$165 million, making it one of the biggest venture capital financings in Canadian history.

The investors were led by New York-based Insight Venture Partners along with early Facebook investor Accel Partners and Ontario-based OMERS Private Equity.

“This capital gives us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision around the world,” said chief executive Ryan Holmes in a release.

HootSuite, which produces software that allows users to control Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn from one “dashboard,” had a workforce of 35 employees just over two years ago, and that number has grown to over 300. Separate from its headquarters in Vancouver, the company has offices in Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, London and Sydney.

Holmes, who founded the company, and was born and raised in British Columbia has said he wanted to build HootSuite into a billion-dollar company.

HootSuite was created four years ago and has grown to more than 7 million users around the world.

An initial financing injection came last year when HootSuite received $20 million from OMERS.

“We believed in the integration of social media within the enterprise,” said OMERS CEO John Ruffolo.

“Since then, HootSuite has shown the market that this trend is not only important, but mission critical for any company looking to be relevant. We are committed to helping the team become the dominant player in this market.”

As of this time last year, about 96 per cent of HootSuite’s users did not pay to use the program and have access to only the basic functionality.

But users can also pay for access to tools and data to analyze their social media impact and increase engagement with their audience. These enterprise packages start at $1,000 per month, with some large companies paying as much as $100,000 per month.

HootSuite counts 237 major companies among its clients, including PepsiCo, Virgin, Orange, Sony Music, and Telus (TSX:T).

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