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BroadbandTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati talks about the BBTV IPO

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Shahrzad Rafati Vancouver media tech company BBTV (BBTV Stock Quote, Chart, News TSX:BBTV) closed an initial public offering on Wednesday and completed a previously announced buyout of BroadbandTV part-owner RTL, setting the table for BBTV to push ahead with its expansion plans.

BBTV said the IPO netted proceeds of $172.4 million at $16.00 per share, with underwriters having been granted an over-allotment to buy another million and change in subordinate voting shares at $16.00 for potentially another $17.2 million.

The move is the latest in the development of BBTV, which had previously owned 49 per cent of BroadbandTV, a video platform for online content company with over 350 employees and $372 million in revenue in 2019. European media company RTL Group had the remaining 51 per cent until bought out by BBTV.

“I am extremely excited. I’m personally invested in our IPO because I greatly believe in our future as a public company. Content is a powerful educator, an entertainer and an agent for change, and BBTV is playing a key role in this large and fast-growing industry…”

Now, BBTV founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati says the company can really get down to business.

“As a public company, we’re going to focus on our growth strategies,” said Rafati, in conversation with Cantech Letter. “We’ll be expanding our revenue streams, growing our higher margin Plus Solutions and investing further in technology and innovation, along with expanding our platforms, markets and verticals and pursuing strategic acquisitions.”

It’s been a long road for Rafati, who founded BroadbandTV in 2005 as a creator and distributor of video content and end-to-end content management services. The company gained a major client in the National Basketball Association in 2009 when it began
managing the NBA’s fan-uploaded YouTube content.

Broadband’s software uses audio and video recognition tools to give companies and brands the ability to profit when their content is posted online by other users, flagging that content as proprietary and giving advertising rights to owners. The company has since taken on a string of notable clients including media conglomerates A&E, public broadcaster PBS and Sony.

By 2013, as one of YouTube’s biggest multi-channel networks (MCNs) Broadband had hit one billion monthly visitors. Ramp that up to the present and BroadbandTV is, after Google, the second-largest source of online video content in the world with 245 billion online views over the first half of 2020 and with further business in areas such as monetization services for YouTube creators and musicians and mobile game app development.

In 2013, RTL was brought on board as a partner through a $36-million investment which included a call option to buy the remaining portion of BroadBandTV. But by 2017, RTL had refused to take up the option, which eventually brought BBTV to its current position where it exercised the right to buy out RTL’s stake.

 

“As a public company, we’re going to focus on our growth strategies. We’ll be expanding our revenue streams, growing our higher margin Plus Solutions and investing further in technology and innovation, along with expanding our platforms, markets and verticals and pursuing strategic acquisitions.”

 

For Rafati, who now owns about 34 per cent of total shares which, including subordinate and multiple voting shares, gives her about 83 per cent of voting power, gaining back control of BroadbandTV means a lot.

“I am extremely excited,” Rafati said. “I’m personally invested in our IPO because I greatly believe in our future as a public company.”
“Content is a powerful educator, an entertainer and an agent for change, and BBTV is playing a key role in this large and fast-growing industry,” Rafati said. “It’s about the democratization of content globally, something which has led to success for many content
owners regardless of size.”

BroadbandTV’s growth over the years has been steady, with Rafati guiding the company up the ranks in terms of content viewership and expansion of services. BBTV says it had about 439 billion views on its platform between June 2019 and June 2020 and currently stands at 596 million unique monthly viewers, behind only Google at 1.118 billion. The company has grown from $33 million in revenue in 2014 to $372 million by last year.

“We really want to build the strongest ecosystem in online video,” said Rafati in an interview with the Globe and Mail . “The goal was never to be number-one [but] to build the strongest ecosystem in the space. … We want to be the linchpin at the centre of it all
to really advance online video while helping content owners and creators become more successful through better distribution and better monetization.”

A mercurial force in Canada’s tech community, this year alone Rafati has been named CanadianSME Magazine’s Business Woman of the Year, a finalist for the KPMG in Canada Award for HR Champion in the CEO category and a finalist for RBC’s Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

On the RBC nomination, for which the award will be announced on November 18, Rafati said in a press release , “This recognition is reflective of the amazing work done by the whole BBTV team who are the driving force behind our continued success. BBTV leads by example as a truly quadruple bottom line business with strong financial performance and a zero-per-cent gender pay gap.”

“We are excited to welcome BBTV to Toronto Stock Exchange -one of the largest Vancouver tech IPOs in the Exchange’s history,” Dani Lipkin, Director, Global Businesses Development for the TSX told Cantech Letter today. “This is another incredible Canadian technology company, which has become a global leader in the digital content space.”

 

Disclaimer: Cantech Letter’s Nick Waddell owns shares of BBTV.

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

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