BBTV goes private just three years after IPO

Many Vancouver companies that went public since 2020 have seen falling stock prices.

BBTV’s Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO, on stage at Collision conference in 2019 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Collision / Sam Barnes.

BBTV, a multi-channel network dedicated to assisting online creators in managing, distributing, and monetizing their content, announced that it has entered an agreement to go private.

From its peak in early 2021, BBTV’s shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) have dropped to around $0.36 a share; a near 98 percent decrease. The decision to become a privately held company once more follows a recommendation by an independent special committee of the company’s board of directors. Special committee chair John Kim suggested that the proposed move would offer liquidity to BBTV shareholders and debtholders, while also helping the company shed the reporting and financial burdens that come from being a public firm. He said that BBTV shares are currently “very thinly traded with low volume.”

Although the company’s board has approved the move to go private, it still needs to clear the typical closing conditions, as well as approvals from the shareholders, debtholders, courts, and regulatory bodies. BBVT expects the deal to be done around the end of November, when the company will be delisted from the TSX.

The company previously IPO’d on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in 2020, at a price of $16 a share and a reported valuation exceeding $300 million. The move to go public came a year after it was named the second-largest video property by unique viewers, according to comScore. At the time of the IPO, BBTV was one of the top 10 tech TSX listings of all time, and the first on the TSX with a sole female founder and CEO in the technology sector.

The company’s listing aligned with the IPO boom between 2020 and 2021. That period saw the valuations of Vancouver companies soar, including the creation of several new billion-dollar companies. B.C. generated nine “true unicorns” as private tech startups: Clio, Dapper Labs, GeoComply, Nexii, Semios, Trulioo, Visier, Blockstream, and LayerZero Labs. The other companies that reached a $1-billion-or-more valuation during this same period were AbCellera (IPO), Thinkific (IPO), Copperleaf (IPO), and Galvanize (acquired at $1 billion).

A number of those businesses have seen sharp drops in their value, in line with the tech economy as a whole. Private market values have tanked across the board, and the stock market has not fared much better. Tech stocks fell more than 30 percent last year, around 10 percent higher than the overall market drop, according to Forbes. The continued decline is due in part to higher interest rates, high inflation, and uncertain economic conditions.

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