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#FlashbackFriday: Chicken Soup for the Soul Raises $30 Million in Mini-IPO

Madeleine Johnson
While I thought the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand was lost forever to the late '90s-early '00s era, I clearly was not paying attention. On Friday, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. announced that it completed its $30 million initial public offering, selling 2.5 million shares at $12 each.

While I thought the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand was lost forever to the late ‘90s-early ‘00s era, I clearly was not paying attention. On Friday, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. announced that it completed its $30 million initial public offering, selling 2.5 million shares at $12 each.

The company will begin trading later today on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “CSSE.”

Chicken Soup’s IPO is the largest public offering to be completed under Regulation A+, a format created by the JOBS Act that aimed to give smaller companies access to capital; this will also be the first Reg A+ IPO to list on the higher tier Nasdaq Global Market.

"We are extremely pleased with the investor demand for our IPO," said William J. Rouhana, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "Our fans and customers are truly loyal and passionate about our brand, and we are thrilled to have them join us as shareholders. To accommodate such demand, we upsized the offering repeatedly until we reached the $30 million maximum under our offering circular."

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment was actually created last year as a subsidiary by its then parent company, Chicken Soup for the Soul Holdings, to focus specifically on video production.

The company has produced series like Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hidden Heroes for CBS CBS, and Project Dad for TLC network, owned by Discovery Communications DISCA. CSSE also recently launched CSS Network, which the company describes as “our branded direct-to-consumer network” that will offer “original and third-party video content on a fee-per-view, subscription or advertising-supported basis.”

But the Chicken Soup brand goes back much farther. Founded in 1993, Chicken Soup for the Soul was created by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, and is a well-known name among self-help book fans. It has a portfolio of around 250 books, which consist of inspiring stories for targeted audiences ranging from teenagers to mothers to pet owners, among many others. Many of the books have become best-sellers, and the company says it has sold 11 million copies worldwide.

Chicken Soup’s founders sold the company back in 2008 to a group that included Mr. Rouhana. Since then, the company has expanded to sell foods, pet foods, apps, and advertising through its YouTube GOOGL channel, in addition to its video ventures.

Looking at its financial numbers, CSSE’s 2016 revenue totaled $8.1 million, growing from just $1.5 million a year earlier, according to its SEC filing. Net income was $800,000 last year, compared to a net loss of $800,000 in 2015.

HCFP/Capital Markets LLC, The Benchmark Company LLC, and Weild & Co. were underwriters of the transaction.

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