The social media management platform Hootsuite, valued at more than $1 billion today, was developed at a coworking space 12 years ago.
Its founder, Canadian internet entrepreneur and computer programmer Ryan Holmes, has seen his platform grow to attract more than 18 million users, making it one of coworking’s biggest success stories.
Hootsuite’s user interface is a dashboard that supports social network integrations for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. With its headquarters in Vancouver, the company has around 1,000 employees based in 13 locations across the world including London, Toronto and Bucharest.
Used in more than 175 countries, its creator has become a renowned philanthropist, who has founded his own charity, the League of Innovators. Its aim is to help young people to become entrepreneurs in their own right, launching and growing their own business.
How did Hootsuite begin?
Holmes was born in Vernon, British Columbia, in 1974 and grew up on a small farm without electricity. He didn’t let this hold him back and excelled at school, winning a regional computer programming competition in the fifth grade. His prize was an Apple IIc portable computer – the fourth model in the Apple II series of PCs.
He had it rewired and ran it off a car battery, spending as much time on the computer at home as he did at school. He started business and computer science courses in the mid-1990s at Okanagan College, but eventually dropped out. Instead, he launched a pizza restaurant, Growlies, in his hometown in 1997.
He sold a franchise of the business later that year and then sold the Growlies company in 1999 in order to fund his real passion, computers and the emerging tech industry. After teaching himself internet design and development, he worked at a technology company in Vancouver.
He then founded digital media company Invoke, where seven of his 21 employees were involved in building the tool that was to become Hootsuite in 2008 – aimed at enabling businesses to combine social media into their marketing campaigns.
How was Hootsuite developed?
Holmes raised funding of $1.9 million for Hootsuite in 2009 and spun it off into an independent company. Much of the development of the company was carried out in Rocket Space coworking space in San Francisco – a hotbed of technology ideas.
The social media management platform that grew into a billion-dollar business is one of coworking’s biggest success stories. Being based in a coworking space helped Hootsuite’s founder and developers make the right connections to execute their ideas.
A coworking environment is ideal for startups, as it provides users with a cost-effective, productive and comfortable workspace, affording access to the benefits of an excellent infrastructure, prominent locations and like-minded entrepreneurs, and enabling networking and collaboration, which can be mutually beneficial.
How much funding has Hootsuite attracted?
By March 2012, Hootsuite was already a major player and attracted a further $20 million investment from Omers Ventures, the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System’s investment arm. This valued Hootsuite at $200 million just four years after it was founded.
Hootsuite raised a further $50 million and acquired customer relationship management system Seesmic, a competitor, in September 2012. Less than a year later, on 1st August 2013, the company attracted a further $165 million investment from Insight Venture Partners, Accel Partners and Omers.
In February 2017, Hootsuite acquired the digital advertisement manager AdEspresso and LiftMetrix, a social media analytics company. Hootsuite announced a further $50 million in growth capital in March 2018 from CIBC Innovation Banking.
How successful is the company today?
After its rapid global growth in the past 12 years, Hootsuite is valued at more than $1 billion today. It has had a few changes in office scenery, although still favours coworking for some of its offices around the world. Its London head office is based in coworking space, as the company recognised that to accomplish rapid growth without sacrificing their employees’ experience, flexible workspaces were the key.
Hootsuite favours a modern mix of collaborative spaces, private desks and meeting rooms, with a lounge area and central kitchen, where workers can have informal meetings or relax. In addition to its London headquarters, Hootsuite has opened new international offices in Hamburg, New York, Sydney, Paris, Toronto, Bucharest and Mexico City.
Holmes, aged 45, wrote his first book, The $4 Billion Tweet, in 2017, explaining the monetary value for businesses who maximise the use of social media. He later claimed his book had inspired Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein to post his first tweet.
Awarded the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, he shares his insights in Forbes, Fast Company and Inc and is a global influencer on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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