Eight months after it hired an outside financial advisor to examine “strategic options” for the company, including a potential sale, Audioboom said Wednesday that despite having advanced talks with several parties, it has instead ended the process and will bring on new investment dollars from the public markets. “In the current climate, there has been limited interest in paying the level of premium to the prevailing share price that the board considers would represent appropriate value for shareholders and, as such, the board has not taken these discussions further,” Audioboom said in a statement.
The company said it engaged with “several” interested parties during the process, none of which it identified. Even as the coronavirus pandemic hung overhead, Audioboom said “a number” of those discussions advanced to the point where potential deal structures and outline valuations were proposed and considered. Ultimately, however, the board decided the price the potential suitors were willing to pay was less than what they believe Audioboom is worth. Rather than recommend one to shareholders, the board said it would instead focus on Audioboom’s organic growth trajectory.
It said the double-digit revenue growth the company has seen this year is “very encouraging” and shows that Audioboom has “resilience” to global events. The board is leaving the door open to a potential deal at some point in the future, however, but said it would no longer be actively seeking prospective buyers.
“I am pleased that Audioboom can continue its growth story as an independent business following the conclusion of our strategic review and formal sale process,” said Audioboom Chairman Michael Tobin. “We were buoyed by the interest in Audioboom as an acquisition target and as a leader in our field during a process that was impacted significantly by COVID-19.”
With a sale no longer imminent, Audioboom agreed to sell a 9.96% stake in the company to One Nine Two Pte Ltd, a Singaporean company established to take advantage of high-tech growth opportunities. This week it bought those 1.4 million shares at a price the company said was at a 26.8% premium, raising roughly $4.1 million.
“We are confident that our business model and access to capital can drive our expansion independently and provide the best route to exceptional long-term value for our shareholders,” Tobin said in a statement.
Third Quarter Revenue Grows 15%
Despite continued uncertainty in the overall business climate, Audioboom offered a fresh glimpse at the growth story that podcasters continue to tell during 2020. The company said its third-quarter revenue totaled $6.5 million, a 15% increase compared with a year ago. And for the first nine months of the year, Audioboom says its total revenue is up 18% to $18.3 million. Those gains helped the company shrink its losses to $400,000 during the third quarter.
Audioboom reported it had 252 brand advertisers during the third quarter, a small but symbolic three percent gain over the 244 that were buying podcast ads from the company a year ago, long before the pandemic impacted businesses.
“I am delighted with the speed at which Audioboom has rebounded from the challenges of COVID-19 – highlighting the resilience and strong fundamentals that we have built into the business,” CEO Stuart Last said in a statement. He said Audioboom revenue is growing at more than 70% faster than the projected U.S. podcast market growth for 2020.
Audioboom says its revenue per 1,000 downloads, which it refers to as an eCPM, increased 19% to $32.69 during the third quarter versus $27.38 during the same period a year ago. The eCPM also increased 29% from June, when the impact of coronavirus shutdowns was greater in markets around the world.
Because of COVID-19, Audioboom earlier announced that it would slow the release of Audioboom Original podcast releases and push some productions back to 2021. It still plans to release five new Audioboom Originals Network podcasts during the fourth quarter, on the heels of earlier releases this year of series including Truth Vs Hollywood, Baby Mamas No Dramas, Huddled Masses and Because Mom Said So.
The reason Audioboom has pushed deeper into producing its own podcasts is that they produce a greater return. Audioboom Originals average an eCPM of $35.85, which is 10% more than its wider network of podcasts overall.