Toronto-based venture capital fund Georgian Partners is leading a $16-million investment in Vision Critical Communications Inc., the fast-growing market research firm that serves clients including Yahoo Inc. and Molson Coors Brewing Co.
Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund and Kensington Global Private Equity Fund also participated in the investment round, the proceeds of which will go to selling shareholders who have backed the company for years. Vision Critical would not disclose figures for its total funding since inception, but noted it has received "a lot" of interest and will continue to evaluate new investors.
Vision Critical is rumoured as a top candidate for the next big Canadian IPO, after shareholder John Ruffolo hinted strongly at the idea in a recent conference. Bankers estimate the Vancouver-based tech company could be valued at around $400-million.
"An outcome such as an IPO would be great, but it's market leadership we're after," said Simon Chong, managing partner at Georgian Partners. "We're confident that (Vision Critical) will be the leader in the next generation of customer intelligence."
Vision Critical's cloud-based software platform allows clients to create "online communities" to interact with customers, providing insights and predictive analytics to help companies communicate with their customers. It's revenues hover over $100 million and it has 700 employees across the globe.
"Vision Critical is one of the biggest, fastest-growing SAS companies in Canada. Everyone seems to know Shopify and Hootsuite...but not (Vision Critical)," said Mr. Chong.
"This (round) isn't about the money: it's about getting involved with Georgian Partners," said Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical. "They're smart guys, have a great track record, and we love having them as active investors as we explore a number of expansionary opportunities."
Georgian has about $220 million in capital across two funds, with a focus on expansion-stage software companies. Cisco recently made a "strategic investment" in Georgian to expand its second fund -- Georgian Partners Growth Fund II -- as part of Cisco's $150-million fund targeted at Canadian tech companies.
Editor's Note: a previous version of this story suggested the new round of funding from Georgian Partners would flow to Vision Critical's coffers. In fact, the new round of funding is being used to pay out existing shareholders.