Cision began trading on the New York Stock Exchange today under the ticker symbol CISN, marking the completion of its $2.4 billion initial public offering and making it the second largest technology IPO of 2017, behind Snap’s $3.4 billion offering in February.
Cision's move comes a year after the Chicago-based, 3,000-employee public relations and social software provider acquired PR Newswire for $841 million and a day after the completion of its merger with publicly traded investment firm Capitol Acquisition III.
The Good and the Bad of IPOs
Going public has its rewards. It also comes with inherent risks.
At least one other public tech company this year got scooped up for far less than its worth. ESW Capital acquired enterprise social network provider Jive for $425 million, far south of Jive’s peak value of $1.7 billion valuation.
Online meal-prep delivery service Blue Apron’s IPO predicted share valuation also took a hit this week following Amazon's announced intention to buy Whole Foods.
And of course, there’s the whole cost thing. According to a 2016 Harvard University study, average total IPO fees and expenses for "emerging growth companies" (less than $1 billion in revenue) excluding underwriting fees from 2013 to 2015 was $3.7 million. The average total non-EGC fees and expenses was $6.4 million.
IPO? Why Worry?
Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd, who took over as CEO last August after a stint as general manager for the Oracle Marketing Cloud, told CMSWire in an interview this week he doesn’t have many worries about going public.
He’s not afraid of competition, regulations, legislations or any looming technology.
The Cision Communication Cloud is “fundamentally changing” the space, Akeroyd said, the way Adobe changed marketing, Salesforce changed sales and service, Workday changed HR and Oracle and SAP changed finance.
“We don’t really have a massive competitor,” said Akeroyd, whose company claims over $600 million in revenue. “When I was at Oracle, not only was I evangelizing marketing clouds, but I was saying, ‘Hey my version is better than IBM’s, Adobe’s and Salesforce’s.’ So I was doing both. I was evangelizing the transition from point solutions to tech stacks, and I was saying why my version was better.”
Cision, he said, is also promoting the transition in communications from point solutions to one-cloud-does-it-all stack like marketing did seven years ago.
“But I don’t really have a competitor that keeps us up at night,” Akeroyd said. “And there is not really any legislation, regulatory or governmental issue. So we’re in a good position where we don’t have any of those macro factors around competitive tech or regulatory.”
Wall Street's Watching
It does have Wall Street now to deal with, though. Snap knows this well. The parent company of SnapChat posted big losses in revenue and saw shares plummet in its first public report in May.
Akeroyd is well aware of the public pressures, having spent three years at Oracle and four at Salesforce.
“Really it’s going to come down to our ability to execute, No. 1,” Akeroyd told CMSWire.
Can Cision educate and increase adoption in a timeframe where it can hit financial goals?
“When you’re public,” Akeroyd said, “those are quarterly and visible.”
Cision Focus on Earned Media Success
Cision provided the communications technology platform behind the Dove Real Beauty Pledge.
Akeroyd called it a shining example of an earned media success story. “Reach” and sheer volume no longer cut it, Cision believes.
Cision’s platform helps brands (88 percent of clients) and agencies (about 12 percent) identify influencers, produce the right content, monitor campaigns and analyze results and benchmarks against competitors.
They are not alone in filing for an IPO this year.
Tech unicorn AppDynamics — a startup worth more than $1 billion — was supposed to be the first tech IPO of 2017. But just a day before its IPO, AppDynamics called off plans to go public and instead accepted a $3.7 billion acquisition offer from Cisco.
Tech companies Mulesoft, Carvana, Alteryx, Netshoes, Okta, Elevate Credit, Cloudera, Snap and Yext have all gone public this year.