Local VC Blackbird and other early stage investors in SafetyCulture look set for a second bite of the exit cherry as the company turns 20 next year, with up to $500 million worth of existing shares being offered for sale to investors more than three years after shareholders in the privately-owned business last offloaded stakes
The sales comes after company, best known for its worksite safety checklist app, raised $34 million an a $2.7 billion valuation, a $600 million increase on 27 months ago when the Sydney-headquartered business raised $95 millionat $2.1 billion.
Prior to that, SafetyCulture raised $49 million in October 2020 so staff and investors can cash in on the unicorn’s growth. Since then it has more than doubled in value. Discussions on the sale of employee shares are expected to begin this week.
The latest $34 million adds Sydney fund Marbruck Investments to the cap table alongside long-term investors Morpheus Ventures and Index Ventures, the latter writing its first cheque in 2016 when the company was worth just $160 million.
Blackbird first invested this time eight years ago in a $6.1 million Series A at a $50 million valuation. With its first fund coming to the end of its life after a decade, the VC is now looking for the exits for its unlisted holdings, having recently sold down some of its Canva stake for $150 million.
In recent years, the business has been in acquisition mode, spending $6 million on remote worker safety app SHEQSY and $3 million last year for data and IoT startup Inauro in June.
Founder and budding Hollywood mogul Luke Anear has also been busy producing a pay-for-view 4-part documentary series on Australian startup founders, featuring himself, as well as Canva’s Melanie Perkins, Brighte’s Katherine McConnell and Finder’s Fred Schebesta.
While there’s still no sign of SafetyCulture heading to a public listing, in November last year, Anear, the CEO, threatened to register the business as a US corporation “within the next month or two” because of Australia’s company filing laws, complaining that the rules also gave overseas competitors an unfair advantage.
“In the US, companies can remain private until they publicly list. It’s no wonder that Canva and others are domiciled there, and now we’re looking to relocate there too,” he said.
The latest $34 million raise was revealed in company filings rather than via the company’s PR firm, which has been busy of late promoting the documentary series.
Anear said at the time that the business “will continue to post a loss for the next five years or more” adding that “it’s unrealistic to expect to turn a profit early while you’re investing in product development and acquiring customers everywhere.”
The business was founded in 2004.
By March this year, Anear had shifted that narrative, telling the AFR that: “We’ve shifted the business back from a growth mode to being profitable. It means we have infinite runway” and didn’t really need ongoing VC funding.
“We’re not dependent on outside investment in order to continue to build the business and grow,” he said.
If true, the current round would appear to be designed to bump up the value of SafetyCulture stock by around 25% ahead of shareholders looking for buyers on the secondary market.
SafetyCulture has been contacted for comment.