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Rover to be acquired by asset manager Blackstone in $2.3B deal

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Rover began trading on Nasdaq in 2021. Amber Christensen, Rover’s longest tenured employee outside of the founders, was joined at the exchange by pups from left, Chico, Olive and Roxie. (Rover Photo)

Seattle pet-sitting marketplace Rover announced Wednesday that it has agreed to be acquired by asset manager Blackstone in a deal worth approximately $2.3 billion. Company stockholders will receive $11 per share in cash — an amount that’s 29% higher than its $8.50 closing price on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled for this next chapter in the Rover story and look forward to the partnership with the Blackstone team, who share our conviction, excitement and strategic vision,” said Aaron Easterly, co-founder and CEO of Rover.

GeekWire was the first media organization to cover Rover, which was sparked by an idea from Seattle venture capitalist Greg Gottesman at a Startup Weekend event in Seattle in 2011. Rover was then incubated inside Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group in its early days.

The company operates a platform for connecting pet owners with dog-walking and pet-sitting services. It provides services in 10 countries: the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands and Norway.

After years of growth, Rover was hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic that kept many people working from home and forced travelers to cancel vacation plans. In March 2020, it laid off 41% of its workforce.

In August 2021, Rover became a publicly traded company through a merger with Nebula Caravel Acquisition Corp, a SPAC sponsored by True Wind Capital. The deal valued Rover at $1.35 billion when it was announced in February of that year.

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The terms of the Blackstone acquisition include a customary 30-day “go-shop” period during which Rover and its advisors have the option of pursuing alternative acquisition proposals from third parties.

Rover’s board of directors has approved the merger agreement, which must also be accepted by Rover’s stockholders and meet regulatory clearances. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.

Earlier this month, Easterly announced “an outstanding third quarter” with 30% revenue growth to $66.2 million and a net income of $10.5 million. During the quarter, Rover facilitated 1.8 million bookings for pet services, an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year.

Blackstone bills itself as the world’s largest alternative asset manager with more than $1 trillion in assets under management.

When asked about changes in headcount and business operations in Seattle due to the acquisition, a Rover company spokesperson said, “it’ll be business as usual.”

Source: Geek Wire

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