HootSuite raises record-breaking $165 million for global expansion

Perhaps Ryan Holmes really does want to build Canada's next RIM.

(Kamil Bialous)

(Kamil Bialous)

There’s no doubt about it now: Vancouver’s tech darling is going big. In a feature I wrote this past winter, I presented HootSuite as a company that wanted to stay at home—not sell to a large American company. That said, CEO Ryan Holmes was a bit cagey; he promised he would build a billion-dollar company north of the 49th parallel, not that he wouldn’t sell after that.

It looks like we have our answer: Holmes is taking on the world, at least for now. The private company, which is likely worth close to $1 billion (Holmes says revenue has tripled over the last year), just raised a massive $165 million in Series B funding—that’s the most venture capital money ever raised for a software company in Canada.

HootSuite already has over 300 employees and continues to grow considerably. Indeed, the company is profitable and healthy. Along with its social media dashboard, which is used freely by most of its 7 million users, HootSuite offers deep analytics and comprehensive support to enterprise clients, like Fortune 500 companies, some of which pay $100,000 every month for the service.

Clearly, growth is the motivation here. HootSuite says the new money will be used to push the firm’s international expansion. “This capital gives us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision around the world,” Holmes said in a news release.

Already, HootSuite has additional staff in Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, London and Sydney. It’s in these cities, and others, where we can expect to see the most growth.

“We are really excited about international opportunities,” Matt Switzer, HootSuite’s VP of Partnerships and Corporate Development, tells Canadian Business. He says growing the company’s roster of employees is a priority, but the large cash pile will also be used to acquire startups. Growth and stability are the focus at HootSuite, he says—not exit strategies.

The new funding came from three sources: Insight Venture Partners, Accel Partners (Accel was the only VC firm with a sizable slice of Facebook before its IPO) and Canada’s own OMERS Ventures. Hootsuite also raised $20 million last year, but that was to buy back stock from early investors—for “a bigger win,” as Holmes explained it.

With this latest, record-breaking round of funding, perhaps he really does want to build Canada’s next RIM. Here’s hoping.