Gainesville-based SharpSpring continued on its rapid pace this week, selling part of its business for $15 million.
The 4-year-old company sold its deliverability platform, SMTP, to Electric Mail Company. This portion of the business ensures emails hit the inbox with optimized email deliverability, based on what is known as SMTP, has become a major competitor with companies such as SendGrid and Sparkpost, said SharpSpring CEO Rick Carlson.
Carlson founded SharpSpring in 2012 with the help of Chief Technology Officer Travis Whitton. Their goal was to revolutionize digital marketing by developing an easy-to-use cloud-based system that was affordable for small and medium-sized businesses.
Carlson also wanted to return to Gainesville, where he had received a University of Florida MBA in 2001. “There wasn’t an opportunity for people like me to stay when I graduated,” he said. “I believed that innovation economy had grown to the point that we could tap the talent here – and that proved to be true.”
SharpSpring’s platform tracks the shopping habits of each sales prospect, which helps companies do highly targeted marketing, Carlson said.
The success of the venture caught the eye of Boston-based SMTP Inc., which acquired SharpSpring in 2014.
SMTP Inc. switched its name to SharpSpring, and moved its headquarters to Gainesville. The company, which also has offices in South Africa and the Ukraine, also changed its ticker symbol on Nasdaq from SMTP to SHSP.
Ironically, the part of the consolidated company that sold this week was the original business of SMTP Inc. “We sold the company that bought us,” Carlson said.
The sale carries with it the benefit that SharpSpring will continue focus its efforts on their marketing automation platform and outsource email deliverability services. “We’ll be Electric Mail Company’s biggest customer,” Carlson said.
SharpSpring is planning to move into a building that Trimark Properties is constructing at 550 SW Second Ave.
“Everything we’ve done in Gainesville has been extremely rewarding,” Carlson said.