Gainesville-based SharpSpring being sold, will move into renovated Firestone building
Published: Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.
SharpSpring, a Gainesville-based Internet marketing company, announced Friday that a deal is in the works for SMTP of Nashua, New Hampshire, to acquire the company in a $5 million cash sale.
The acquisition, expected to close by the end of the month, also includes up to $10 million more in cash and stock based on reaching up to $5 million in revenue in 2015.
SharpSpring has 25 employees and expects to add at least 15 to 20 more over the next year or so, said Rick Carlson, president and founder.
The company would remain in Gainesville as an independent subsidiary of SMTP.
SMTP offers email marketing for clients that include Best Buy and WebMD. The company reported $5.8 million in revenue in 2013 and trades on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol SMTP.
SharpSpring offers cloud-based automated marketing services that allow its clients to target advertising to people who visit their websites based on their specific interests.
“We're able to send information to somebody who's looking for a specific product about exactly the product they're looking for at exactly the time they're looking for it,” Carlson said.
In a news release, SMTP said SharpSpring offers features, functionality and performance that will allow it to challenge the industry's largest players such as Hubspot, Act-On and Marketo.
SMTP also announced Friday that it has an agreement to acquire GraphicMail of Doral for $5.2 million in cash and stock, which will add a global distribution network to its offerings.
Carlson, a Miami native, earned his master's in business administration from the University of Florida before spending the next 10 years working for an Orlando software startup company and running the U.S. operations of Internet security firms AVG and Panda Security. He returned to Gainesville in December 2011 to raise his son near his in-laws and pursue his idea of starting a software company to help small businesses generate and track sales leads.
The company started in a small office in the downtown Sun Center and in January 2013 moved into the first floor of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency building at 802 NW Fifth Ave. The company has since outgrown that space, going from five full-time employees a year ago to 25 now, most of whom are in Gainesville, and plans to move into the recently renovated Firestone building at 304 W. University Ave.
It publicly launched its services in January and has 200 clients in seven countries.
As SharpSpring expands, Carlson said the company will be filling such jobs as marketing, technical account managers, programmers and developers, among others.
He said the company has had a lot of help from the Gainesville community along the way, including a loan from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization for Public Research and employee training funds from CareerSource North Central Florida. The company also has found “fantastic talent” with employees hired from Grooveshark and the UF MBA program.
He also noted that people in tech hubs such as Boston and Silicon Valley are becoming aware of the talent in Gainesville, and the deal is an example of that since SMTP board member Semyon Dukach manages the Techstars incubator in Boston.
“They get to see the best of the best those guys chose to bet on us,” Carlson said.