|TEV||101||TEV/EBIT||-5||TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios|
|Item 1. Business|
|Item 1A.Risk Factors|
|Item 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 3.Legal Proceedings|
|Item 4.Mine Safety Disclosures|
|Item 6. Reserved|
|Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
|Item 7A.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 8.Financial Statements and Supplementary Data|
|Item 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure|
|Item 9A.Controls and Procedures|
|Item 9B.Other Information|
|Item 10.Directors, Executive Officers, and Corporate Governance|
|Item 11.Executive Compensation|
|Item 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters|
|Item 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence|
|Item 14.Principal Accounting Fees and Services|
|Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules|
|Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
Ops, Inv, Fin
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging Growth Company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock, $0.0001 par value, held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $
As of February 22, 2021, there were
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference portions of the registrant’s Proxy Statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this report relates.
LEAF GROUP LTD.
INDEX TO FORM 10-K
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy and plans and our objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “predict,” “plan” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements are so identified. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as guarantees of future performance. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current financial results and our current expectations and projections about future events, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic; our ability to execute our business plan to maintain compliance with the continued listing criteria of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”); changes by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) or other governmental authorities regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020, the SBA’s related Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP Program”) and our ability to obtain forgiveness of the loan we obtained pursuant to the PPP Program; and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short-term and long-term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. under the heading entitled “Risk Factors”, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and in our Consolidated Financial Statements and the related Notes. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, except as required by law.
You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance and events and circumstances may be materially different from what we currently expect.
As used herein, “Leaf Group,” the “Company,” “our,” “we,” “us” and similar terms include Leaf Group Ltd. and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.
“Leaf Group” and other trademarks of ours appearing in this report, such as “Society6”, “The Other Art Fair”, and “Well+Good”, are our property. This report contains additional trade names and trademarks of other companies. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names or trademarks to imply an endorsement or sponsorship of us or our business by such companies, or any relationship with any of these companies.
Leaf Group is a diversified consumer internet company that builds enduring, creator-driven brands that reach passionate audiences in large and growing lifestyle categories, including fitness and wellness and home, art and design.
Our business is comprised of three segments: Society6 Group, Saatchi Art Group, and Media Group. Financial information by segment is set forth in Note 17 of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15, “Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Prior to the third quarter of fiscal 2020, we had two reportable segments, Marketplaces and Media. Marketplaces included our Society6 and Saatchi Art e-commerce marketplaces and Media referred to our sites, monetized primarily through advertising. During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, to further increase visibility into our business, we divided our Marketplaces segment into two separate segments, referred to as Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group. Society6 Group includes both our direct-to-consumer line and our business-to-business line. Saatchi Art Group likewise includes both our consumer and business-to-business lines, as well as The Other Art Fair’s live fairs. Our Media segment remains intact and renamed Media Group. We have recast all prior period amounts and segment information to reflect the new segmentation.
Society6 Group is our made-to-order marketplace business and includes Society6.com (“Society6”) and our wholesale channel (together with Society6, the “Society6 Group”). Society6 provides artists with an online commerce platform to feature and sell their original art and designs on consumer products in the Wall Art, Home Décor, Tech and Apparel Accessories categories. Artists post their designs and enable products within the Society6 product portfolio on which their art and designs can be sold. After a product is purchased, dependent on the product purchased, third-party vendors or our manufacturing facility produce, package and ship the product directly to the buyer. Society6 Group’s wholesale channel sells products to trade and hospitality clients, as well as retail distribution partners. We serve a diverse community of customers and feature artists from all origins, including underrepresented communities, with designs and artistic styles as diverse as the countries they represent and our campaigns throughout the year highlight artwork by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) artists. As of December 31, 2020, Society6 Group had approximately 405,000 active artists, an increase of approximately 7% from the prior year. There are now more than 8.0 million unique designs and approximately 75 consumer products available across the Society6 Group product portfolio. During 2020, Society6 Group facilitated sales to customers located in approximately 160 countries.
Saatchi Art Group
Saatchi Art Group, which includes SaatchiArt.com (“Saatchi Art”) and its complementary art fair event brand, The Other Art Fair (together with Saatchi Art, the “Saatchi Art Group”), is one of the world’s largest online art galleries with a focus on emerging artists. The online gallery’s mission is to democratize the art world and create a platform that celebrates diversity, providing an opportunity for all artists worldwide to exhibit and sell their artwork. The site pairs discovery tools with curation, making it easy for buyers to browse art with confidence. Saatchi Art also offers an art advisory service which provides individual collectors and trade professionals with access to an art curator who will help select artwork tailored to the customer’s needs, space and style. Through Saatchi Art Group, approximately 115,000
artists exhibit and sell their original artwork directly to consumers through a curated online gallery or in-person at art fairs hosted in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. Saatchi Art’s online art gallery features a wide selection of original paintings, drawings, sculptures and photography and has sold works to buyers located in over 95 countries in 2020. There are currently more than 2.3 million original, unique works available on the Saatchi Art platform. In 2020, Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair hosted no art fairs, due to the Pandemic.
Leaf Group’s Media Group segment consists of a diverse portfolio of media properties that educate and inform consumers on a broad range of topics. Our media properties enable a large community of subject matter experts to share their knowledge and passion with consumers across the internet. We generate the majority of our media revenue from the sale of advertising.
Brands. Our portfolio of owned and operated media properties includes Well+Good, Livestrong.com, Hunker, and OnlyInYourState, as well as approximately 43 other media properties that are focused on specific topics or interests. Collectively, our owned and operated media properties reached more than 51 million average monthly unique visitors in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2020 according to comScore.
|●||Well+Good is a leading health and wellness media brand known for its journalistic approach to content.|
|●||Livestrong.com is a premier destination and action-oriented community for people who want to become their best selves – physically, mentally and emotionally. Livestrong.com also offers mobile applications, such as MyPlate, that monitor users’ health, fitness and life achievements.|
|●||Hunker is a home design media site dedicated to helping first-time homeowners improve their homes with practical solutions, home tours and design advice for real people.|
|●||OnlyInYourState is a leading US-focused local attractions and review site, highlighting small businesses, hidden gems and natural wonders for an audience of motivated, experience-seekers.|
Content Creation. We create high-quality, informative and entertaining digital content in a wide variety of formats, including videos, articles and slideshows. We use a combination of internal editorial staff, freelance contributors and social influencers to produce this content. Our platform uses advanced algorithms to identify the questions or underserved topics that are on consumers’ minds. Our platform also manages the development, refinement and eventually the publishing of this content to the web, email and social channels. Our mission is to connect the knowledge and the passion of an expert with interested and curious consumers while highlighting and creating more inclusive content and programs that provide greater opportunities for BIPOC creators to share their stories, experiences and perspectives.
Traffic Sources. Consumers can find our content through a variety of modern digital distribution channels including search, social networks, email campaigns and direct navigation. Once a consumer discovers us, we make it easier for them to follow us on social networks, share our content with friends and sign-up for our newsletters. We have a large and growing following across social networks, including Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest.
Mobile Applications. Our media portfolio also includes mobile applications. MyPlate, our most successful app, is integrated into our Livestrong.com brand. During December 2020, MyPlate was used by over 427,000 consumers to track their calories and improve their diet. MyPlate is monetized via ads, sponsorships and a premium subscription offering that unlocks advanced features.
Monetization. Each of our owned and operated properties is designed to optimize revenues from a diverse set of buyers. We carefully maximize yield across the monetization ad stack between direct brand, programmatic and third parties, each representing a different value bracket. We engage directly with brands on unique content and sponsorship opportunities to connect with our diverse consumers. We also leverage programmatic tools and proprietary data to connect advertisers with valuable audiences across our media properties.
Partner Sites. Some of our websites were developed in coordination with other media companies and publishers. In these cases, we create, maintain and host content that exists on the partner’s sub-domain and is seamlessly integrated into our partner’s website. Revenues from this content are shared with the partner. We currently have approximately nine such hosted properties in our portfolio of media properties.
Our technologies include software applications built to run on independent clusters of standard and commercially available servers located at a co-location facility and with a third-party cloud provider. We make substantial use of off-the-shelf available open-source technologies such as Linux, PHP, MySQL, Redis, mongoDB, Memcache, Elasticsearch and Couchbase. These systems are connected to the internet via load balancers, firewalls, and routers installed in multiple redundant pairs. We also utilize third-party services to geographically deliver data using major content delivery network (“CDN”) providers, such as Akamai. Virtualization is heavily deployed throughout our technology architecture, which affords scaling numerous properties in an efficient and cost effective manner. Enterprise class storage systems provide redundancy in order to maintain continued and seamless system availability in the event of most component failures.
Our business intelligence platform and financial systems are hosted in a Tier IV data center alongside most of our public facing media websites and applications. Our marketplaces websites are hosted with a third-party cloud hosting provider. Each of our significant websites is designed to be fault-tolerant, with collections of application servers, typically configured in a load balanced state, in order to provide additional resiliency. Our environment is equipped with a full-scale monitoring solution. Our systems and applications are monitored by our continuously staffed technology operations and engineering teams.
We provide our products and services to consumers around the world. Our marketplaces are available to artists and buyers globally and, while it is a small part of our outsourced production process, we work with international vendors in the Asia-Pacific and European regions to more efficiently ship products to customers and we continue to look for opportunities to work with additional international vendors. In addition, Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair hosts art fairs in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
Information regarding financial data by geographic areas is set forth in Note 17 of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15, “Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and additional information regarding certain risks associated with our international operations is provided under the heading “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The products and artwork sold through our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments are primarily sold directly to consumers. We also distribute products through third-party retailers and sell products and artwork to trade professionals and commercial customers.
Our Media Group segment customers currently include advertisers and advertising providers that purchase advertising space on our owned and operated media properties, as well as third-party brands, publishers and advertisers for whom we create and, in some cases, host content. Our advertising strategy is currently focused on both direct sales channels with brands and advertising agencies, particularly with respect to native and sponsored ad campaigns, and programmatic offerings that utilize various advertising network exchanges to manage our ad stack. A significant portion of the advertising revenue generated by our Media Group is derived from our agreements with Google. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors—We depend upon certain arrangements with Google for a significant portion of our advertising revenue. A termination of, or a loss of revenue generated from, our arrangements with Google would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
We operate in highly competitive and developing industries that are characterized by rapid technological change, a variety of business models and frequent disruption of incumbents by innovative entrants.
Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group. Our art and design marketplaces compete with a wide variety of online and brick-and-mortar companies selling comparable products. Our made-to-order marketplace business, Society6 Group, primarily competes with companies that also utilize a made-to-order business model whereby consumer products featuring artist designs are produced by third-party fulfillment partners and shipped directly to customers, such as RedBubble, Threadless, and Minted, as well as companies that offer broader home décor and apparel products for creative, design conscious consumers, such as Etsy, Wayfair, Urban Outfitters, and West Elm. Our online art gallery and in-person art fair business, Saatchi Art Group, competes with traditional offline art galleries, art consultants, and online platforms selling original artwork, such as Artfinder, Artspace, Rise Art, eBay and Amazon Art, as well as various art fairs that feature reasonably priced artwork from emerging artists, such as The Affordable Art Fair. Our marketplaces must successfully attract, retain and engage both buyers and sellers to use our platforms and attend our fairs. We believe that the principal competitive factors for such marketplaces include the quality, price and uniqueness of the products, artwork or services being offered; the selection of goods and artists featured; the ability to source numerous products efficiently and cost-effectively with respect to our made-to-order products; customer service; the convenience and ease of the shopping experience we provide; and our reputation and brand strength. We expect competition to continue to intensify as online and offline businesses increasingly compete with each other and the barriers to enter online channels are reduced.
Media Group. We face intense competition for the properties within our Media Group segment from a wide range of competitors. These markets are rapidly evolving, highly fragmented and competition could increase in the future as more companies enter the space. We compete for advertisers on the basis of a number of factors, including return on marketing expenditures, price of our offerings, and the ability to deliver large audiences or precise types of segmented audiences. Our principal competitors in this space currently include various online media companies ranging from large internet media companies to specialized and enthusiast properties that focus on particular areas of consumer interest, as well as social media outlets such as Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, where brands and advertisers are focusing a significant portion of their online advertising spend in order to connect with their customers. Some of our competitors have larger audiences and more financial resources than we have and many of our competitors are making significant investments in order to compete with various aspects of our business.
Many of our current competitors have, and potential competitors may have, substantially greater financial, marketing and other resources than we have; greater technical capabilities; greater brand recognition; longer operating histories; differentiated products and services; and larger customer bases. These resources may help some of our competitors and potential competitors respond more quickly as the industry and technology evolves, focus more on product innovation, adopt more aggressive pricing policies and devote substantially more resources to website and system development than we do. Additional information regarding competition is included under the heading “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our intellectual property consists of brands, trademarks, service marks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, and is, in the aggregate, important to our business. To protect our proprietary rights, we rely on a combination of intellectual property right laws and regulations in the United States and other jurisdictions, including trademark, patent, copyright, and trade secret laws, together with contractual provisions and technical measures that we have implemented. We rely more heavily on trade secret protection than patent protection. To protect our trade secrets, we maintain strict control access to our proprietary systems and technology, including our platforms, infrastructure and production environments. We also enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and consultants, as well as confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with third parties that provide products and services to us. We also license certain trademarks, tradenames and/or copyrights through long-term license arrangements.
We have trademarks registered in the United States and in various countries (some of which are registered in multiple classes) for some of our core properties, including “Society6”, “The Other Art Fair”, “eHow”, “Well+Good”
and “Hunker”, and we have additional trademark applications pending in the United States and other jurisdictions. We also have patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and other jurisdictions with respect to certain methods, processes and technologies related to our Media Group segment that expire between 2027 and 2034, and we have patent applications pending in the United States and other jurisdictions specific to our Media Group segment. We believe that the duration of our patents is adequate for the current needs of our business. We generally do not register the copyrights associated with our media content with the United States Copyright Office due to the relatively high costs we would incur to register all of our copyrights.
In addition to the intellectual property we own, we also have perpetual licenses to use the “Saatchi” name in connection with our Saatchi Art marketplace and the “Livestrong.com” name in connection with our Livestrong.com media property, in each case, as permitted by the terms of intellectual property or licensing agreements with the third parties who retain the perpetual ownership rights to such names. Additional information regarding certain risks related to our intellectual property is included under the heading “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We were incorporated in 2006 as Demand Media, Inc., a Delaware corporation. Later in 2016, we changed our name to Leaf Group Ltd. Our principal executive offices are located at 1655 26th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404, and our telephone number is (310) 656-6253. Our website address is . Information contained on or that can be accessed through our website does not constitute part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the inclusion of our website address in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is an inactive textual reference only.
We are subject to numerous laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, including laws and regulations relating to freedom of expression; information security; data privacy and data collection; pricing and fees; employment related matters; online content and the distribution of content; intellectual property rights, including secondary liability for infringement by others; product liability claims; taxation, including sales and value-added taxes (“VAT”); online advertising and marketing, including email marketing, unsolicited commercial email, native advertising and sponsored content; and the use of social media influencers.
In the United States, Congress has adopted legislation that regulates certain aspects of the internet, including the Communications Decency Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Lanham Act, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the CAN-SPAM Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Advertising and promotional information presented to visitors on our online properties, our related social media channels and through our other marketing activities are subject to federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations that govern unfair and deceptive practices. Because we operate large consumer-facing media properties and marketplace platforms, we are also subject to state, federal and foreign laws and regulations governing privacy of users’ search and purchasing habits and other information, including requirements related to the collection and protection of consumers’ non-public personal information, user preferences and similar personal data. We are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which became effective in May 2018 and relates to data protection and privacy in the European Union (the “EU”). If enacted, we will be subject to the EU ePrivacy Regulation, which is a proposed regulation of privacy and electronic communications. We are self-certified with the U.S. Department of Commerce for the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks, which relate to the transfer of personal data from the EU and Switzerland to the U.S. Additionally, an increasing number of states are enacting their own privacy and data protection laws, which may be preempted by proposed U.S. federal privacy laws.
We are also subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (the “TCPA”), which restricts telemarketing and the use of automated telephone equipment. The TCPA limits the use of automatic dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages and fax machines. It also applies to unsolicited text messages advertising the commercial availability of goods or services. Additionally, a number of states have enacted statutes that address telemarketing. For example, some states, such as California, Illinois and New York, have created do-not-call lists. Other states, such as Oregon and Washington, have enacted “no rebuttal statutes” that require the telemarketer to end the call when the consumer indicates that he or she is not interested in the product being sold.
Restrictions on telephone marketing, including calls and text messages, are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”), states and through the availability of statutory damages and class action lawsuits for violations of the TCPA.
We must also comply with certain foreign and U.S. laws and regulations that apply to our international operations, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”), the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 (the “U.K. Bribery Act”) and regulations issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), the U.S. Commerce Department and various foreign governmental agencies. The FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and similar anti-bribery laws in other jurisdictions generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business and require companies to maintain accurate books and records. OFAC regulations prohibit U.S.-based entities from entering into or facilitating transactions with, for the benefit of, or involving the property of, persons, governments or countries designated by the U.S. government under one or more sanctions regimes, which could include transactions that provide a benefit that is received in an OFAC designated country. Additionally, some of the products and services we provide to customers globally may require approval under applicable U.S. export and customs laws.
Federal, state, local and foreign governments are also considering other legislative and regulatory proposals that would regulate the internet in more and different ways than exist today, including with respect to taxes. New laws and regulations, or new interpretations of existing laws and regulations, may significantly impact our business. We are subject to the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, including Articles 15 and 17, dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter”, which became effective in June 2019. The costs of compliance with the various laws and regulations applicable to us are high and may increase in the future and any failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may subject us to additional liabilities and penalties. See “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information.
Employees and Human Capital Management
As of December 31, 2020, we had 360 employees. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or is subject to a collective bargaining agreement. We believe that relations with our employees are good. We have long believed that the core to success lies in having a diverse and engaged workforce. In terms of diversity, we have focused both on gender and racial diversity. We recognized that change starts at the top and in 2020 we substantially changed the racial and gender profile of our Board of Directors (“Board”). Our Board chair is a woman and the majority of the Board consists of women and two of our seven Board members are black. With respect to our workforce, our Company consists of 59% women, including women in critical leadership positions. Our Chief People Officer is a woman of Asian descent and women run our Society6, Saatchi Art, and Well+Good business units.
While racial diversity has always been a priority, shortly following the start of the anti-racism movement and protests in 2020, we recognized that we needed to do more to address the pervasive issues of racial injustice. In that regard, to further support our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (“DEI”), we hired our first Vice President of DEI and Talent Management to help ensure the DEI considerations were driven into every aspect of our business. We published our official DEI statement on our intranet and rolled out various resources to further educate our people and assist them in our efforts to accelerate our efforts to build a diverse workforce.
While a small company, we work hard to implement a compensation system that both enables us to attract the type of talent we feel is necessary to help the Company succeed and that incentivizes the performance that we are seeking. We operate on a premise both of shared rewards and shared sacrifice. In terms of rewards, we provide competitive base salaries, bonuses, health and welfare benefits and a defined contribution plan under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code (“401(k) Plan”) covering all full-time employees who meet certain eligibility requirements. In addition, we give eligible employees equity awards so that they can share in the success of our Company as our stock price improves and we also want them to think of themselves as owners of the business with the motivation that brings. In terms of shared sacrifice, in spring of 2020, when the Pandemic first hit, the management team with the full support of the Board was committed to avoiding layoffs and proceeded with a shared sacrifice model. The Board declined all compensation for the first half of 2020, our CEO took a 50% pay cut, our senior executives took a 25% cut and the rest of the employees took a 15% pay cut, which cuts in base pay were later restored. We believe that this approach to shared sacrifice is consistent with our view that we treat our employees as partners in the growth of our business.
We believe that our approach to inclusion, compensation and shared rewards is a critical driver for us in attracting and retaining the people that we need to continue to drive the performance of our business.
Our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments are affected by traditional retail seasonality and there is generally increased sales activity on our marketplaces platforms during the third and fourth quarter back-to-school and holiday seasons. All of our segments are affected by seasonal fluctuations in internet usage, which generally slows in the first quarter of the calendar year as well as during the summer months. These seasonal trends have caused, and will likely continue to cause, fluctuations in our quarterly results.
We file reports with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any other filings required by the SEC. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports are made available free of charge in the investor relations section of our corporate website (http://ir.leafgroup.com) as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. The SEC maintains an internet site (http://www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.
We webcast our earnings calls and certain events we participate in or host with members of the investment community on the investor relations section of our corporate website. Additionally, we provide notifications of news or announcements regarding our financial performance, including SEC filings, investor events, and press and earnings releases, on the investor relations section of our corporate website. Investors and others can receive notifications of press releases and SEC filings by signing up for email alerts. Investors and others should note that we also use social media to communicate with the public about our Company, our services and other issues. It is possible that the information we post on social media could be deemed to be material information. Therefore, we encourage investors, the media, and others interested in our Company to review the information we post on the social media channels listed on the investor relations section of our corporate website. Further corporate governance information, including our corporate governance guidelines, board committee charters and code of business conduct and ethics, is also available on the investor relations section of our corporate website under the heading “Corporate Governance.”
Any references to our corporate website address in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are intended to be inactive textual references only. None of the information contained on our website is part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or incorporated by reference into this report or any other report or document we file with the SEC.
In addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, you should consider carefully the risks and uncertainties described below, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business is divided into three reportable segments: Society6 Group, Saatchi Art Group, and Media Group. While there are a set of risks common to all of the segments, each of the segments also presents its own set of risks.
Risk Factor Summary
Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including those highlighted in this section titled “Risk Factors” and summarized below. We have various categories of risks, including risks related to our businesses and industries, including specific risks related to the Society6 Group segment, Saatchi Art Group segment and Media Group segment; risks related to our fundraising and indebtedness; risks related to information technology, intellectual property and data security and privacy; risks related to legal, regulatory, accounting and tax matters; and risks related to ownership of our common stock, which are discussed more fully below. As a result, this risk factor summary does not contain all of the information that may be important to you, and you should read this risk factor summary together with
the more detailed discussion of risks and uncertainties set forth following this section under the heading “Risk Factors,” as well as elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Additional risks, beyond those summarized below or discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, may apply to our business, activities or operations as currently conducted or as we may conduct them in the future or in the markets in which we operate or may in the future operate. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:
|●||The global COVID-19 pandemic could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||If we are unable to successfully drive traffic to our marketplaces and media properties and expand the customer base for our marketplaces, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.|
|●||We have a history of operating losses and may not be able to operate profitably or generate positive cash flow.|
|●||Our operating results may fluctuate on a quarterly and annual basis due to a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control, which may make it difficult to predict our future performance.|
|●||Mobile devices are increasingly being used to access the internet and, in addition, our content is increasingly being consumed and our products are increasingly being purchased on social media platforms. If we are unable to effectively optimize our mobile solutions in order to improve user experience or comply with requirements of our advertising partners, our business, financial condition and results of operation could be negatively impacted.|
|●||If we are unable to attract new customers to our marketplaces and successfully grow our marketplace businesses, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.|
|●||Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group face significant competition, which we expect will continue to intensify, and we may not be able to maintain or improve our competitive position or market share.|
|●||If internet search engines continue to modify their methodologies, traffic to our online properties could decline significantly.|
|●||Our Media Group segment faces intense competition from companies that may have competitive advantages.|
|●||We generate the majority of our Media Group revenue from advertising. A reduction in advertising revenue, including as a result of lower ad unit rates, increased availability of ad blocking software, lower online advertising spend, a loss of advertisers or lower advertising yields, could seriously harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||We may not be able to obtain capital when desired on favorable terms, if at all, or without substantial dilution to our stockholders, which may impact our ability to execute on our current or future business strategies|
|●||Our credit facility provides our lender with a first-priority lien against substantially all of our assets, and contains covenants and other restrictions on our actions that may limit our operational flexibility or otherwise adversely affect our results of operations.|
|●||Our business is subject to online security risks, including cyberattacks and other security breaches, and any actual or perceived security breach could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||Actions of activist stockholders could cause us to incur substantial costs, divert management’s and the board’s attention and resources, and have an adverse effect on our business and stock price.|
|●||The trading price of our common stock has been and is likely to continue to be volatile, which may lead to you not being able to resell shares of our common stock at or above the price you paid, securities litigation or hostile or otherwise unfavorable actions by stockholders or others.|
Risks Related to our Businesses and Industries
Risks Applicable to the Company as a Whole
The global COVID-19 pandemic could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. This contagious disease outbreak, which has continued to spread, and the related adverse public health developments, including orders to shelter-in-place, have adversely affected workforces, organizations, economies and financial markets globally, leading to an economic downturn, uncertainty and increased market volatility. The extent to which the Pandemic impacts our business, financial condition and results of operations depends and will depend on numerous evolving factors, many of
which we cannot control and that we may not be able to accurately predict, including: the duration and scope of the Pandemic; governmental, business and individual actions that have been and continue to be taken in response to the pandemic; the impact of the Pandemic on economic activity and actions taken in response; the effect on our customers and customer demand for our products, solutions, and services; our ability to sell and provide our products and services; and the ability of our customers to pay for our products and services. Customers may also slow down decision making, delay planned work or seek to terminate existing agreements. There is also uncertainty around how long the Pandemic and the effects of the Pandemic will endure and what impact such duration will have, positive or negative, on our businesses.
Specific impacts on our portfolio of business include, but are not limited to:
|●||Society6 Group Segment. While the Society6 Group has been the beneficiary of the various shelter-at-home regulations promulgated by international, federal, state and local governments as people working from home are looking for creative, reasonably priced items to spruce up their environments and consumers have been choosing e-commerce over shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, the Society6 Group segment may experience volatility given the uncertain economic times brought on by the Pandemic. Though Society6 Group has, to date, experienced limited disruptions related to the shipping of its products arising from the Pandemic, such as the disruptions in shipping during the 2020 December holiday season, it is possible that if the Pandemic continues additional strain could be placed on the Society6 supply chain.|
|●||Saatchi Art Group Segment. The Pandemic has continued to cause cancellations or postponements of the live art fairs run by The Other Art Fair. We cancelled all 14 art fairs originally scheduled for 2020. Depending on how long the Pandemic endures, we may have to postpone or cancel art fairs in 2021 as well. In an effort to support artists and customers, we launched Online Studios on April 8, 2020. Online Studios is our new online fair for artists who were selected to participate in our cancelled live art fairs. While we believe that the initial reception of Online Studios has been positive, we do not believe that Online Studios will generate revenue at the same levels as our live art fairs by The Other Art Fair.|
|●||Media Group Segment. The overall economic climate attributable to the Pandemic has brought a reduction in revenues per visit as many advertisers are cancelling or delaying ad buys while assessing the ongoing impacts of the Pandemic on their businesses. We continue to believe that our Media Group segment will experience volatility given the uncertain economic times brought on by the Pandemic. Due to the significant operating margin of our Media Group segment, a reduction in revenue from our Media Group segment has potentially significant adverse impacts on our cash position.|
In addition, due to the financial risks presented by the Pandemic, we implemented a variety of cost cutting initiatives in the first half of 2020 and may need to implement additional cost cutting initiatives in the future that may adversely affect our executive team, employees and business. We continually evaluate our cash position and seek to balance the competing needs of preserving cash in a highly uncertain economic environment while not depriving our businesses of the resources they need to grow. To date, these cost cutting measures have included temporary salary cuts of our executive team and salaried direct workforce (whose salaries were reinstated effective with payroll paid on June 30, 2020), compensation cuts and deferrals of compensation of our independent directors (whose cash retainer compensation was reinstated, effective July 1, 2020), termination of matching contributions for our United States employees in our 401(k) Plan (which was reinstated effective January 1, 2021), a hiring freeze on all but critical hires, which we began to relax in 2021, and limiting merit increases and promotions. We have also reduced expenses in marketing, technology, facilities, and travel. These measures may cause or result in disruption of our business, challenges in hiring critical employees and retaining key employees. Qualified individuals that are critical to the success of our current and future businesses, including engineers, developers and sales and marketing personnel, are in high demand, and we may encounter challenges retaining them if conditions related to the Pandemic persist. All of our officers and United States employees are at-will employees, which means they can terminate their employment relationship with us at any time, and their knowledge of our business and industry may be difficult to replace generally and more so due to the Pandemic. In addition, increased volatility or under-performance in our stock price may also affect our ability to attract critical new employees and retain our existing key employees. Our executive officers and employees may be more inclined to leave us if the perceived value of equity awards, including restricted stock units and stock options, decline. If we lose the services of key personnel or do not hire (in the case of critical employees) or retain other qualified personnel for key positions, our business and results of operation could be adversely affected. If we are
unable to mitigate these or other potential risks related to our cost cutting initiatives, it may disrupt our business or could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to successfully drive traffic to our marketplaces and media properties and expand the customer base for our marketplaces, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.
In order for our businesses to grow, we must attract new visitors and customers to our marketplaces and media properties and retain our existing visitors and customers.
Our success in attracting traffic to our media properties and converting these visitors into repeat users depends, in part, upon our ability to identify, create and distribute high-quality and reliable content through engaging products and our ability to meet rapidly changing consumer demand. We may not be able to identify and create the desired content and produce an engaging user experience in a cost-effective or timely manner, if at all. As discussed further below, we depend on search engines to direct a significant amount of traffic to our media properties, and we utilize search engine optimization efforts to help generate search referral traffic to our media properties. If we are unable to successfully modify our search engine optimization practices in response to changes regularly implemented by search engine algorithms and in search query trends, or if we are unable to generate increased or diversified traffic from other sources such as social media, email, direct navigation and online marketing activities, we could experience substantial declines in traffic to our media properties and to our partners’ media properties, which would adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, the use of voice recognition technology like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri may drive traffic away from search engines, which could reduce traffic to our websites. Any reduction in the number of users directed to our websites through search engines could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
One of the key factors to growing our marketplace platforms for Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group is expanding our new and repeat customer base. Our ability to attract new customers, some of whom may already purchase similar products from our competitors, depends in part on our ability to successfully drive traffic to our marketplaces using social media platforms, email marketing campaigns and promotions, paid referrals and searches. We may incur significant expenses related to customer acquisition and promotional activities, and the net sales from new customers may not ultimately exceed the cost of acquiring these customers. If we fail to deliver a differentiated consumer experience or if customers do not perceive the products or designs sold through our marketplaces to be of high value and quality, we may have difficulty retaining our existing customers and attracting new customers through referrals and other channels. Further, the Pandemic has positively contributed to the growth of our customer base and we are unable to predict the impact on our growth rate that may come upon the conclusion of the Pandemic.
We have a history of operating losses and may not be able to operate profitably or generate positive cash flow.
We were founded in 2006 and, except for the year ended December 31, 2012, when we generated net income, we have had a net loss in every year since inception, including generating a net loss of $8.9 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. As of December 31, 2020 we had an accumulated deficit of approximately $487.7 million and we may continue to incur net operating losses in the future. Moreover, our cash flows from operating activities do not currently cover all of our operating expenses, and we may not generate sufficient cash to cover operating expenses for the foreseeable future. Our ability to generate net income in the future will depend in large part on our ability to generate and sustain substantially increased revenue levels, while continuing to control our expenses. We may incur significant operating losses in the future for a number of reasons, including those discussed in other risk factors and factors that we cannot foresee, and we may be unable to generate net income or sufficient positive cash flows.
Our operating results may fluctuate on a quarterly and annual basis due to a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control, which may make it difficult to predict our future performance.
Our revenue and operating results could fluctuate significantly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control. Therefore, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. In addition to other risk factors discussed in this section, factors that may contribute
to the variability of our quarterly and annual results, and cause customers to reduce or delay their purchases of our offerings, include:
|●||lower than anticipated levels of traffic to our media properties and corresponding advertising rates achieved through our ad stack;|
|●||seasonality of the revenue associated with our marketplaces, including increased sales activity during the back-to-school and holiday seasons;|
|●||spikes in sales of our made-to-order products due to major social or political events resulting in a short-term demand for products with related content;|
|●||competitive pricing pressures, including shipping costs, potential discounts offered and promotional activity associated with driving new and repeat customers to and impacting products sold through our marketplaces;|
|●||disruptions in the supply-chain, production and fulfillment operations associated with the products sold through our marketplaces;|
|●||the amount and timing of operating costs and capital expenditures related to the maintenance and expansion of our services, operations and infrastructure, especially one-time costs related to the development or acquisition of new products and services;|
|●||increased costs associated with the acquisition or production of new content for our media properties, including video and other visual formats;|
|●||changes in internet advertising purchasing patterns by advertisers and changes in how we sell advertisements;|
|●||timing of and revenue recognition for certain transactions;|
|●||changes in generally accepted accounting principles;|
|●||our focus on long-term goals over short-term results;|
|●||weakness or uncertainty in general economic or industry conditions;|
|●||exposure to regional public health concerns and epidemics, including the Pandemic; and|
|●||political and economic instability domestically and internationally, which have and could lead to fluctuations in the availability of credit, decreased business and consumer confidence and increased unemployment.|
It is possible that our operating results may fluctuate from period to period and our operating results may be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors in one or more future quarters due to any of the factors listed above or for other reasons, any of which could have a material adverse impact on the price of shares of our common stock.
Mobile devices are increasingly being used to access the internet and, in addition, our content is increasingly being consumed and our products are increasingly being purchased on social media platforms. If we are unable to effectively optimize our mobile solutions in order to improve user experience or comply with requirements of our advertising partners, our business, financial condition and results of operation could be negatively impacted.
The number of people who access the internet through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, rather than through desktop or laptop computers, has increased substantially in recent years. Additionally, individuals are increasingly consuming publisher content through social media platforms. If we cannot effectively distribute our media content, products and services on these devices or through these platforms, we could experience a decline in visits and
traffic and a corresponding decline in revenue. It is also more difficult to display advertisements on mobile devices without disrupting the consumer experience. We have made, and may make further, changes to the layouts and formats of our mobile optimized sites in order to improve the user experience or comply with the requirements of our advertising partners, which could negatively impact our monetization efforts on mobile devices. In addition, advertising yields on mobile web and social media platforms are currently lower than direct desktop yields. The significant increase in consumption of our media content on mobile devices and through social media platforms has, in part, contributed to a reduction in our Media Group revenue per one thousand visits, or RPVs. As a result of these factors, the increasing use of mobile devices and social media platforms to access our content could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, consumers are increasingly conducting online shopping on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, rather than on desktop or laptop computers. Although we continually strive to improve the mobile experience for users accessing our marketplaces through mobile devices, the smaller screen size and reduced functionality associated with some mobile device interfaces may make the use of our marketplace platforms more difficult or less appealing to our members. Historically, visits to our marketplaces on mobile devices have not converted into purchases as often as visits made through desktop or laptop computers, and the average order value for mobile transactions has been lower than desktop transactions. Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group sellers are also increasingly using mobile devices to operate and monitor their accounts on our platforms; and if we are not able to deliver a rewarding experience to sellers using mobile devices, these businesses may suffer. If our members encounter difficulty accessing or using our marketplace platforms on their mobile devices, or if our members choose not to use our marketplace platforms on their mobile devices, the growth prospects for our marketplaces could decline. As new mobile devices and mobile platforms are released, we may also encounter problems in developing or supporting apps for them. In addition, supporting new devices and mobile device operating systems may require substantial time and resources. The success of our mobile apps could also be harmed by factors outside our control, such as: actions taken by providers of mobile operating systems or mobile app download stores; unfavorable treatment received by our mobile apps, especially in comparison to competing apps; increased costs to distribute or use our mobile apps; or changes in mobile operating systems, such as iOS and Android, that degrade the functionality of our mobile website or mobile apps or that give preferential treatment to competitive products. Additionally, if conversion rates and average order values for mobile transactions on our marketplaces do not increase, our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments’ revenue and results of operation may be adversely affected.
If our emails are not delivered and accepted or are routed by email providers less favorably than other emails, or if our sites are not accessible or treated disadvantageously by internet service providers, our business may be substantially harmed.
We send emails to our customer base on a regular basis. If email providers or internet service providers (“ISPs”) implement new or more restrictive email or content delivery or accessibility policies, including with respect to net neutrality, it may become more difficult to deliver emails to consumers or for consumers to access our websites and offerings. For example, certain email providers, including Google, may categorize our emails as “promotional,” and these emails may be directed to an alternate, and less readily accessible, section of a consumer’s inbox. If email providers materially limit or halt the delivery of our emails, or if we fail to deliver emails to consumers in a manner compatible with email providers’ email handling or authentication technologies, our ability to contact consumers through email could be significantly restricted. In addition, if we are placed on “spam” lists or lists of entities that have been involved in sending unwanted, unsolicited emails, our operating results and financial condition could be substantially harmed. Further, if ISPs prioritize or provide superior access to our competitors’ content, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Poor perception of our brands or business could harm our reputation and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
All of our businesses are dependent on attracting a large number of visitors to our sites, which depends in part on our reputation within our industries and with our users. If consumers perceived that the quality of our content or our products is inferior or substandard, that would damage our reputation and impact our ability to effectively solicit prospective advertisers, in the case of our Media Group segment, or attract new customers, in the case of our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments.
We depend on key personnel to operate our business, and if we are unable to retain our current personnel or hire additional personnel, our ability to develop and successfully market our business could be harmed.
We believe that our future success is highly dependent on the contributions of our executive officers, as well as our ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel, including engineers, developers and sales and marketing personnel. Qualified individuals that are critical to the success of our current and future businesses, including engineers, developers and sales and marketing personnel, are in high demand, and we may incur significant costs to attract and retain them. All of our officers and other employees are at-will employees, which means they can terminate their employment relationship with us at any time, and their knowledge of our business and industry may be difficult to replace. Volatility or under-performance in our stock price may also affect our ability to attract new employees and retain our existing key employees. Our executive officers and employees may be more inclined to leave us if the perceived value of equity awards, including restricted stock units and stock options, decline. If we lose the services of key personnel or do not hire or retain other qualified personnel for key positions, our business and results of operation could be adversely affected. In addition, we do not maintain “key person” life insurance policies for any of our executive officers.
We have made and may make additional acquisitions that involve significant execution, integration and operational risks and we may not realize the anticipated benefits of any such acquisitions.
We evaluate acquisition and expansion opportunities on an ongoing basis and may pursue select acquisitions from time to time. We may continue to make acquisitions of complementary businesses, websites, solutions, technologies or talent in the future to increase the scope of our business. The identification of suitable acquisition candidates can be difficult, time-consuming and costly. Potential acquisitions require significant attention from our management and could result in a diversion of resources from our existing businesses, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, the expected benefits of acquisitions may not materialize as planned, including achieving certain financial and revenue objectives. Certain acquired businesses or the transactions entered into as part of business combinations may also carry contingent liabilities that could materially impact our future results of operations and financial condition. Furthermore, we may not be able to successfully complete identified acquisitions. If we are unable to identify suitable future acquisition opportunities, reach agreement with such parties or obtain the financing necessary to make such acquisitions, we could lose market share to competitors who are able to make such acquisitions. This loss of market share could negatively impact our business, revenue and future growth.
Even if we successfully complete an acquisition, we may not be able to successfully assimilate and integrate the acquired business, websites, assets, technologies, solutions, personnel or operations, particularly if key personnel of an acquired company decide not to work for us, and we therefore may not achieve the anticipated benefits of such acquisition. In addition, financing an acquisition may require us to (i) use substantial portions of our available cash on hand, (ii) incur additional indebtedness, which would increase our costs and could impose operational limitations, and/or (iii) issue equity securities, which would dilute our stockholders’ ownership and could adversely affect the price of our common stock. We may also unknowingly inherit liabilities that arise after the acquisition and are not adequately covered by indemnities, and certain stockholders of an acquired company may dissent from or object to an acquisition or otherwise seek to assert claims related to the transaction.
Risks Applicable to our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group Segments
If we are unable to attract new customers to our marketplaces and successfully grow our marketplace businesses, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We operate leading art and design marketplaces, as well as a leading art fair for discovering emerging artists. If we are unable to attract new customers to our marketplaces and successfully grow these platforms, our business, financial condition and results of operation would be adversely affected.
The success of our marketplaces is dependent upon a number of factors, including:
|●||demand for these types of products and market acceptance of our products and services;|
|●||our ability to attract and retain new customers;|
|●||increased brand awareness and the reputation of our marketplaces;|
|●||our ability to maintain and grow conversion rates;|
|●||our ability to grow and maintain the artist communities on Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group so that artists continue to contribute and maintain their original artwork and designs on these marketplaces;|
|●||our ability to cost-effectively introduce and market new products on Society6 Group on a timely basis in order to address changing consumption trends and consumer and business preferences and to differentiate us from our competitors;|
|●||our ability to host live fairs events in 2021 or generate attendance at live fairs and events in 2021 due to the ongoing effects of the Pandemic, which caused the cancellation and postponement of our fairs and events, including Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, during 2020;|
|●||demand for the experience and artwork showcased at fairs hosted by Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair in multiple cities around the world and our ability to identify and attract local artists who will drive attendance and art sales at such fairs, especially coming after an extended period where no fairs took place due to the Pandemic;|
|●||the success and competitiveness of new entrants into this highly competitive industry;|
|●||competitive pricing pressures, including potential discounts offered to attract customers and reduced or free shipping;|
|●||our ability to maintain significant strategic relationships with our made-to-order suppliers and ensuring the cost-effectiveness and quality of their products and the timeliness of our production cycle for our art and design marketplaces;|
|●||our ability to effectively address or prevent disruptions in the supply-chain, production and fulfillment operations associated with the made-to-order products sold through our art and design marketplaces, which risks may be further exacerbated by the effects of the Pandemic;|
|●||our ability to source reliable local vendors as we continue to expand internationally;|
|●||our ability to effectively respond to shipping disruptions or delays with, or return rates for, the products sold through our online marketplaces;|
|●||the overall growth rate of e-commerce and marketplaces and changes in consumer spending on discretionary purchases and the unpredictability of the effect on growth rates that will come with the end of the Pandemic; and|
|●||legal claims, including copyright and trademark infringement claims, right of publicity claims and product liability claims, which may expose us to greater litigation costs in the future as compared to historical levels.|
If we are unable to successfully grow our marketplace businesses, including as a result of lower customer growth or retention than expected, or if the revenue generated from marketing initiatives related to our marketplaces is less than the costs of such initiatives, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group face significant competition, which we expect will continue to intensify, and we may not be able to maintain or improve our competitive position or market share.
Our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group businesses compete with a wide variety of online and brick-and-mortar companies selling comparable products. Society6 Group primarily competes with companies that also utilize a made-to-order business model whereby consumer products featuring artist designs are produced by third-party fulfillment partners and shipped directly to customers, such as RedBubble and Threadless, as well as companies that offer broader home décor and apparel products for creative, design conscious consumers, such as Etsy, Wayfair, Urban Outfitters and West Elm. Saatchi Art Group competes with traditional offline art galleries, art consultants and other online properties selling original artwork, such as Artfinder, Artspace, Rise Art, eBay and Amazon Art, as well as various art fairs that feature reasonably priced artwork from emerging artists such as The Affordable Art Fair. We expect competition to continue to intensify given the low barrier of entry into online channels and the increase in conversion and competition between online and offline businesses.
Our marketplace platforms must successfully attract, retain and engage both buyers and sellers to use our platforms. We believe that the principal competitive factors for our marketplaces include the quality, price and uniqueness of the products, artwork or services being offered; the selection of goods and artists featured; the ability to source our product assortment efficiently and cost-effectively with respect to our made-to-order products; customer service; the convenience and ease of the shopping experience we provide; and our reputation and brand strength.
Many of the current competitors to our Society6 Group segment and Saatchi Art segment have, and potential competitors may have, longer operating histories, larger customer bases, greater technical capabilities, greater brand recognition, differentiated products and services, and substantially greater financial, marketing and other resources than we have. These resources may help some of our competitors and potential competitors react more quickly as the industry evolves, focus more on product innovation, and devote substantially more resources to website and system development than we do. Some of the competitors to our online marketplaces may offer, or continue to offer, faster and/or free shipping, more favorable return policies or other transaction-related services that improve the overall customer experience, but that could be impractical or inefficient for us to implement. Some of our competitors may be able to use the advantages of brick-and-mortar stores or other sorts of physical presence to build their customer bases and drive sales. Our competitors may engage in more extensive research and development efforts, undertake more far-reaching marketing campaigns and adopt more aggressive pricing policies, which may allow them to build larger customer bases or generate net sales from their customer bases more effectively than we do.
Risks Applicable to our Media Group Segment
If internet search engines continue to modify their methodologies, traffic to our online properties, and particularly to our media properties, could decline significantly.
We depend on various internet search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, to direct a significant amount of traffic to our properties, including media properties that we host for our partners. Our media properties are particularly dependent on search referral traffic. During the year ended December 31, 2020, a majority of the traffic directed to our media properties came directly from internet search engines and a majority of the traffic from search engines came from Google. Changes in the methodologies or algorithms used by search engines to display results could cause our properties to receive less favorable placements in the search results. Google, Bing and Yahoo! regularly deploy changes to their search engine algorithms. Since our inception, we have experienced fluctuations in the total number of search referrals to our properties. The changes to search engine algorithms by Google, Bing and Yahoo! have resulted in the past, and may result in the future, in substantial declines in traffic to certain of our media properties, which has contributed to significant and sustained revenue declines from our Media Group segment in recent periods. In addition, search engine providers typically display, together with organic search results, content and advertising links that may divert traffic from the pages referenced in the organic search results, including paid search results, content and links selected by the search engine provider or other online marketing firms. Accordingly, even if we rank highly in organic search results, traffic to our properties may still decline as a result of paid search results and other content included on the search results page generated by a search query. Internet search engines could also decide that content on our media properties, or the size, placement and type of ad units displayed on webpages hosting our content, is unacceptable or violates their
policies, which continue to evolve over time. Internet search engines could also view product or layout changes made to our properties unfavorably, leading to lower search result rankings and a decrease in search referral traffic.
Any future or ongoing changes made by search engines that negatively impact the volume of search referral traffic to any of our media or marketplace properties could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, any changes in the terms of service or policies of web browsers that limit our ability to deliver, target, or measure the effectiveness of advertisements, or charge fees related to our delivery of advertisements could adversely affect the usage of our media properties. For example, both Google’s Chrome browser and Apple’s Safari browser, which support the vast majority of our traffic, continue to restrict the usage of cookies with further restrictions anticipated in 2021. Limits on the use of third-party cookies may reduce our ability to provide the most relevant ads to our customers and impacts monetization, and we expect that any additional changes may further limit our ability to target and measure the effectiveness of ads and impact monetization.
Our Media Group segment faces intense competition from companies that may have competitive advantages.
We face intense competition for the properties within our Media Group segment from a wide range of competitors. We compete for advertisers on the basis of a number of factors including return on marketing expenditures, price of our offerings and the ability to deliver large or precise types of segmented audiences. Our current principal competitors include:
|●||Online Media Properties. We compete with numerous digital media companies, some of which have much larger audiences and financial resources than we have, for online marketing budgets. We also compete with companies and individuals that provide specialized consumer information online, including through enthusiast websites, message boards and blogs. These competitors compete with us across several areas of consumer interest including do-it-yourself, fitness and health, home décor, fashion and beauty, crafts, personal finance, technology and pets.|
|●||Social Media Outlets. We compete with social media outlets such as Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, where brands and advertisers are focusing a significant portion of their online advertising spend in order to connect with their customers.|
Our Media Group segment may face increased future competition if any of our competitors devote increased resources to more directly address the online market for the professional creation and distribution of content. Many of our current and potential competitors enjoy substantial competitive advantages, such as greater brand recognition, longer operating histories, substantially greater financial, marketing and other resources, greater technical capabilities, access to larger customer bases and, in some cases, the ability to combine their online marketing products with traditional offline media such as newspapers or magazines. These companies may use these advantages to offer products and services similar to ours at a lower price, develop different products to compete with our current offerings and respond more quickly and effectively than we can to new or changing opportunities, technologies, standards or customer requirements. For example, if Google chose to compete more directly with us as a publisher of similar content, we may face the prospect of the loss of business or other adverse financial consequences due to Google’s significantly greater customer base, financial resources, distribution channels and patent portfolio.
We generate the majority of our Media Group revenue from advertising. A reduction in advertising revenue, including as a result of lower ad unit rates, increased availability of ad blocking software, lower online advertising spend, a loss of advertisers or lower advertising yields, could seriously harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We currently generate the majority of our Media Group revenue from advertisements displayed on our media properties, and we expect to continue to derive a significant amount of our Media Group revenue from advertising. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we generated 24% and 39%, respectively, of the Company’s total revenue from advertising. We have historically experienced declines in blended ad unit rates for both desktop and mobile since 2014, resulting in lower advertising revenue, and any further reductions in ad unit rates would negatively impact our
financial results. In addition, an increasing percentage of our content is now consumed on social media platforms, which does not monetize as well as the same content consumed on directly on our websites. Software developers have also increased the availability of ad blocking software, primarily on desktop devices. Increased adoption of ad blocking software by users could reduce our advertising revenue and negatively impact our financial results.
We also believe that advertising spend on the internet, as in traditional media, fluctuates significantly as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control. These factors include variations in expenditures by advertisers due to budgetary constraints; the evolving online media landscape where advertisers are more selective as to where they allocate capital for branded campaigns vs. programmatic spend; the cyclical and discretionary nature of advertising spending, including the perceived impact of campaign strategies; general economic conditions, as well as economic conditions specific to the internet and media industry; and the occurrence of extraordinary events, such as natural disasters, epidemics (including the Pandemic), terrorist attacks or political instability. Brands and advertisers are also increasingly focusing a significant portion of their online advertising budgets on social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. If this trend continues and we are unable to offer competitive or similarly valued advertising opportunities across our media properties, our revenue from advertising could be adversely impacted. An inability to maintain or increase our advertising revenue would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, our advertising strategy is currently focused on both direct sales channels with brands and advertising agencies, including native and sponsored ad campaigns, as well as programmatic offerings that utilize various advertising network exchanges, including exchanges operated by Google and Index Exchange. Operating on a programmatic basis requires us to actively manage the sale of our ad inventory on these exchanges, and many advertisers and agencies are now focusing more of their budgetary advertising spend through these exchanges. An inability to successfully manage our ad stack, including the programmatic process and our direct sales team, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
One component of our platform that we use to generate advertiser interest is our system of monetization tools, which is designed to match content with advertisements in a manner that optimizes revenue yield and end-user experience. Advertising providers and advertisers will stop placing advertisements on our media properties if their investments do not generate sales leads, branding opportunities and customer awareness, or if we do not deliver their advertisements in an appropriate and effective manner. The failure of our yield-optimized monetization technology to effectively match advertisements with our content in a manner that results in increased revenue for advertisers would have an adverse impact on our ability to maintain or increase our revenue from advertising. If any of our advertisers or advertising providers, and in particular Google, decides not to continue advertising on, or providing advertisements to, our media properties, or modifies its advertising policies in a manner that could negatively impact yield, we could experience a rapid decline in our revenue over a relatively short period of time.
Our Media Group segment is susceptible to traffic declines attributable to current events that dominate the news cycles and declines could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our premium sites, wellandgood.com, hunker.com, onlyinyourstate.com, livestrong.com and others, are primarily focused on art and home décor and health and wellness. When there are significant news events, consumers may be diverted to more hard news sites. For instance, in 2020 we saw traffic declines accompanied by news of the Pandemic, anti-racism movements and protests and the 2020 election. In each such instance, we saw traffic declines that affect the revenues generated by our Media Group segment. Such traffic declines have and any future traffic declines could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We depend upon certain arrangements with Google for a significant portion of our advertising revenue. A termination of, or a loss of revenue generated from, our arrangements with Google would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have an extensive relationship with Google and a significant portion of our total revenue is generated by advertising provided by and through Google products and services. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we derived approximately 12% and 23%, respectively, of the Company’s total revenue from our various arrangements with Google. Google provides both cost-per-click advertisements and cost-per-impression advertisements to our media
properties and we receive a portion of the revenue generated by such advertisements. We also utilize Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange, a sell-side auction marketplace, to sell display advertising space on our media properties to third-party advertisers. In addition, we use Google’s DoubleClick ad serving technology to deliver advertisements to our media properties. Our various services agreements with Google, which govern our advertising, technology and search relationships with Google, are set to expire in 2021, but are expected to be renewed. Google has the right to terminate its agreements with us prior to their expiration upon the occurrence of certain events, including if Google reasonably believes that our use of its products and services violates the rights of third parties, and other breaches of contractual provisions, a number of which are broadly defined. In addition, Google is permitted to discontinue the provision of certain services to us under our primary services agreements at specified times, in its sole discretion. If Google terminates our arrangements with it or ceases to provide certain key advertising products or services to us, or if we are unable to enter into new agreements with Google or its competitors that provide similar products or services on terms and conditions favorable to us prior to the expiration of the current agreements, we may not be able to enter into new agreements with alternative third-party advertisement providers or for alternative ad serving platforms on acceptable terms or on a timely basis or both.
Furthermore, our advertising and technology agreements with Google may not continue to generate the same level of revenue that we have received from such arrangements during past periods for a variety of reasons, including a reduction in the amounts Google is able to charge advertisers and the acceptance and effectiveness of Google’s ad serving and sales technology. Our ability to generate advertising revenue from Google also depends, in part, on Google’s assessment of the quality and performance characteristics of internet traffic resulting from advertisements placed on our media properties. In addition, Google may at any time change the nature of, or suspend, the services that it provides to advertisers and the catalog of advertisers from which advertisements are sourced, or modify its policies with respect to how advertisements may be displayed on a webpage. These types of changes or suspensions would adversely impact our ability to generate revenue from our various agreements with Google. Any termination of or change in the services that Google provides to us, or a loss of revenue generated by our various agreements with Google, would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to our Fundraising and Indebtedness
We may not be able to obtain capital when desired on favorable terms, if at all, or without substantial dilution to our stockholders, which may impact our ability to execute on our current or future business strategies.
We anticipate that our existing cash and cash equivalents and our cash generated by operating activities will be sufficient to fund our operations for at least the next 12 months. It is possible, however, that we may not generate sufficient cash from operations or otherwise have the capital resources to meet our future capital needs, including to invest in areas for growth or to acquire complementary businesses. For example, due to the impacts on our business of the Pandemic, including those discussed in the risk factor titled “The global COVID-19 pandemic could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations,” we applied for and received the PPP Loan on April 20, 2020 for $7.1 million. While we initiated a variety of cost reduction initiatives, we sought and obtained the PPP Loan due to our belief that such funds were necessary to support payroll costs, rent and utilities in order to avoid more drastic measures, such as deep workforce reduction, that would have likely significantly impaired our financial viability. Despite the receipt of the PPP Loan, if we do not generate sufficient cash from operations or otherwise have sufficient capital resources available, we may need to draw down additional funds under our credit facility, enter into a new financing arrangement (to the extent one is available) or dispose of certain assets to execute on our current or future business strategies, including developing new or investing in existing lines of business, maintaining our operating infrastructure, acquiring complementary businesses, hiring additional personnel or otherwise responding to competitive pressures. There can be no assurances that additional financing arrangements will be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. Furthermore, if we are able to and we raise additional funds through the issuance of convertible debt or equity securities, the percentage ownership of our existing stockholders could be significantly diluted, and these newly issued securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing stockholders. For instance, on December 14, 2020, we completed an underwritten registered public offering of 8,216,750 shares of our common stock which, included full exercise of the underwriter’s option to purchase additional shares of common stock, at a public offering price of $4.20 per share.
Under our existing revolving credit facility, we are party to a loan and security agreement, which restricts our ability to incur additional indebtedness and to pay dividends and, in connection with our PPP Loan, Silicon Valley Bank consented to the PPP Loan as additional permitted indebtedness. In addition, we are required to maintain an amount not less than 85% (the “Required Percentage”) of our global cash on account with the lender under the security and loan agreement, provided that such amount may fall below the Required Percentage for a period of time not to exceed 10 consecutive business days each calendar month (but in no event can the amount be less than 75% of our global cash). We are also required to maintain a Liquidity Ratio of at least 1.50 to 1.00. The Liquidity Ratio is a ratio of (a) (i) unrestricted cash and cash equivalents held by us in accounts at Silicon Valley Bank, plus (ii) an amount equal to the product of (A) our net trade accounts receivable, multiplied by (B) sixty percent (60%), to (b) (i) the outstanding principal balance of any borrowings under our credit facility, plus (ii) our accounts payable owing to artists selling works on our platforms (Society6 and Saatchi Art). Further, the Promissory Note for our PPP Loan is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to loans administered by the SBA under the CARES Act, which are continuing to evolve. Any additional debt financing that we may secure in the future could include similar or more restrictive covenants relating to our capital raising activities, buying or selling assets and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital, manage our business and pursue business opportunities. If adequate funds are not available or are not available on acceptable terms, if and when needed, our ability to fund our operations, meet obligations in the normal course of business, take advantage of strategic opportunities, or otherwise respond to competitive pressures would be significantly limited.
We have debt outstanding under the PPP Loan, which is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to loans administered by the SBA under the CARES Act. We will therefore be subject to an audit and may be subject to enforcement action related to the PPP Loan.
On April 20, 2020, we entered into the Promissory Note with Silicon Valley Bank (“SVB”) and SVB agreed to make available to us the PPP Loan in the amount of $7.1 million under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program enabled by the CARES Act. Additionally, Silicon Valley Bank consented to the PPP Loan as additional permitted indebtedness under our existing revolving credit facility. We used the proceeds to support payroll costs, rent and utilities in accordance with the relevant terms and conditions of the CARES Act. The advance under the PPP Loan bears interest at a rate per annum of 1.0%. The term of the PPP Loan is two years, ending April 20, 2022. No payments are due on the PPP Loan until September 20, 2021, although interest will accrue during the deferment period. Beginning September 20, 2021, we will pay equal monthly installments of principal and interest in the amount necessary to fully amortize the PPP Loan through the Maturity Date, less any amount of potential forgiveness. We may also prepay the principal of the PPP Loan at any time without incurring any prepayment penalty or premium. Under the terms of the CARES Act, all or a portion of the principal of the PPP Loan may be forgiven. Such forgiveness will be determined, subject to limitations, based on the use of the PPP Loan proceeds for payroll costs, mortgage interest payments, lease payments or utility payments. On November 30, 2020, we filed an application seeking forgiveness of the PPP Loan through SVB. On January 27, 2021, we received notification from SVB that our loan forgiveness application has been submitted to the SBA. While we believe we used the PPP Loan proceeds in a manner that would permit forgiveness of the PPP Loan, no assurance can be provided that we will obtain forgiveness of the PPP Loan in whole or in part.
The Promissory Note also provides for customary events of default, including, among others, events of default relating to failure to make payments, bankruptcy, breaches of representations, and material adverse effects. A failure by us to comply with the covenants or payment requirements specified in the Promissory Note could result in an event of default under the Promissory Note, which would give the lender the right to declare any and all borrowings outstanding, together with accrued and unpaid interest, to be immediately due and payable. If the debt under our PPP Loan were to be accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash, be able to borrow sufficient funds or be able to sell sufficient assets to repay the debt, which could immediately materially and adversely affect our cash flows, business, results of operations and financial condition.
Additionally, the Promissory Note is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to loans administered by the SBA under the CARES Act, which is subject to revisions and changes by the SBA and Congress. We may also be subject to CARES Act-specific lookbacks and audits that may be conducted by other federal agencies, including several oversight bodies created under the CARES Act. These bodies have the ability to coordinate investigations and audits and refer matters to the Department of Justice for civil or criminal enforcement and other actions. Given that we received
more than $2.0 million under our PPP Loan, we will be subject to an audit by the SBA. Complying with such SBA audit could divert management resources and attention and require us to expend significant time and resources, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our credit facility provides our lender with a first-priority lien against substantially all of our assets, and contains covenants and other restrictions on our actions that may limit our operational flexibility or otherwise adversely affect our results of operations.
We are party to a loan and security agreement, which contains a number of affirmative and negative covenants that restrict our ability to, among other things, incur additional indebtedness, create or incur liens, merge or consolidate with other companies, sell substantially all of our assets, liquidate or dissolve, make distributions to its equity holders or its subsidiaries’ equity interests, pay dividends, make redemptions and repurchases of stock, or engage in transactions with affiliates. In addition, we are required to maintain the Required Percentage of our global cash on account with the lender under the security and loan agreement, provided that such amount may fall below the Required Percentage for a period of time not to exceed 10 consecutive business days each calendar month (but in no event can the amount be less than 75% of our global cash). We are also required to maintain a Liquidity Ratio of at least 1.50 to 1.00. The Liquidity Ratio is a ratio of (a) (i) unrestricted cash and cash equivalents held by us in accounts at Silicon Valley Bank, plus (ii) an amount equal to the product of (A) our net trade accounts receivable, multiplied by (B) sixty percent (60%), to (b) (i) the outstanding principal balance of any borrowings under our credit facility, plus (ii) our accounts payable owing to artists selling works on our platforms (Society6 and Saatchi Art).The terms of our credit facility may restrict our current and future operations and could adversely affect our ability to finance our future operations or capital needs or to execute business strategies in the means or manner desired. In addition, complying with these covenants may make it more difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategy, invest in our growth strategy and compete against companies who are not subject to such restrictions.
A failure by us to comply with the covenants or payment requirements specified in the loan and security agreement could result in an event of default under the agreement, which would give the lender the right to terminate commitments to provide additional loans under our credit facility and to declare any and all borrowings outstanding, together with accrued and unpaid interest and fees, to be immediately due and payable. In addition, the lenders would have the right to proceed against the collateral in which we granted a security interest to them, which consists of substantially all our assets. If the debt under our credit facility were to be accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash or be able to borrow sufficient funds to refinance the debt or sell sufficient assets to repay the debt, which could immediately materially and adversely affect our cash flows, business, results of operations and financial condition. Further, the terms of any new or additional financing may be on terms that are more restrictive or on terms that are less desirable to us.
Risks Related to Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Data Security and Privacy
Our business is subject to online security risks, including cyberattacks and other security breaches, and any actual or perceived security breach could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Some of our systems, products and services involve the collection, storage, processing and transmission of information regarding our users, customers and advertising and publishing partners, which can include personal data, and our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to cyberattacks, malware or security incidents that result in third parties gaining access to such proprietary information. An increasing number of organizations, including large merchants and businesses, other technology companies, financial institutions and government institutions, have disclosed online security breaches in recent years, some of which have involved sophisticated and highly targeted attacks on portions of their websites or infrastructure. Our security measures may be breached and unauthorized parties may attempt to gain access to our systems and information through various means, including hacking into our systems or facilities, fraud, employee error, malfeasance, or inserting malicious code or malware into our code base. Additionally, outside parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees, users, or customers to disclose sensitive information or take other actions by using fraudulent “spoof” and “phishing” emails. Outside parties may also subject us to distributed denial of services attacks or introduce viruses or other malware through “trojan horse” programs to our users’ computers in order to gain access to our systems and the data stored therein. Because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized
access, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently, often are not recognized until launched against a target and may be difficult to detect for a long time, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventive measures. Certain efforts may be state-sponsored and supported by significant financial and technological resources, making them even more sophisticated and difficult to detect. Any security breach or unauthorized access could result in a misappropriation of our proprietary information or the proprietary information of our users, customers or partners, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure, an interruption in our operations and damage to our reputation. If an actual or perceived breach of our security occurs, or if our consumer facing sites become the subject of external attacks that affect or disrupt service or availability, the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and we could lose users, customers, advertisers or partners, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any security breach at a company providing services to us or our users, including third-party payment processors, could have similar effects and we may not be fully indemnified for the costs we may incur as a result of any such breach. In addition, we may need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches or to address problems caused by a breach, and the coverage limits on our insurance policies may not be adequate to reimburse us for any losses caused by security breaches.
We are subject to risks and compliance rules and regulations related to the third-party credit card payment processing solutions integrated within our websites or otherwise used by our businesses.
Many of our customers pay amounts owed to us using a credit card or debit card. For credit and debit card payments, we pay payment processing fees in addition to interchange and other fees, which may increase over time and raise our operating expenses and adversely affect our net income. We are also subject to payment card association operating rules, certification requirements and rules governing electronic funds transfers, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. We believe that we and our payment processing service providers are compliant in all material respects with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which incorporates Visa’s Cardholder Information Security Program and MasterCard’s Site Data Protection standard. However, there is no guarantee that such compliance will be maintained or that compliance will prevent illegal or improper use of our systems that are integrated with our payment processing providers. If any of our third-party payment processors fails to be in compliance with applicable credit card rules and regulations, we may be required to migrate to an alternate payment processor which could result in transaction downtime during the migration and/or a loss of customers and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Third parties may sue us for intellectual property infringement or misappropriation or make similar claims which, if successful, could require us to pay significant damages, incur expenses or curtail our offerings or could result in the termination of licenses.
Our various marketplace platforms allow individuals to sell their artwork or original designs to be printed on consumer products in the home décor, accessories, and apparel categories. From time to time, we face allegations related to, and potential liability for, negligence, copyright or trademark infringement, misappropriation of the right of publicity of well-known figures or other claims related to the goods created from user-generated uploads to our marketplaces. We also may face allegations related to, and potential liability for, content uploaded from our users in connection with claims of defamation, racism, hate speech, obscenity or pornography that may be embodied in user expression. As globally available websites, we also may receive inquiries about content that may be illegal or insensitive to cultural norms not only in the United States but worldwide, and those sensitivities may differ widely. Any legislative developments or litigation outcomes in copyright law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or trademark law that negatively impact our protections from liability for infringement could have consequences for us in our operations and increase litigation costs for the defense of any litigation that might arise due to such changes or developments. Addressing claims of infringement could require us to expend significant time and resources, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We maintain strict content usage policies that are frequently evaluated and updated and enforced. We also require users uploading content to attest that they have all necessary rights to upload content to our service and further require such users to indemnify us in the event that claims are made against us relating to such content. We maintain a content review process that includes evaluation and take-down of uploaded content on our site that fails to meet our policies and compliance with all safe harbors under relevant laws. Nevertheless, from time to time, we receive cease and desist
demands with respect to claims of intellectual property infringement and violation of the rights of third parties, such as rights of privacy and publicity. Notwithstanding our efforts to monitor and manage content and promptly resolve all issues, these measures may not be effective in removing violative content nor sufficient to shield us from potential liability, including situations where users do not have the financial ability to fully indemnify us against liabilities.
Further, as a creator and distributor of original content and third-party provided content on the internet through our media properties, we face potential liability in the United States and abroad based on a variety of theories, including copyright or trademark infringement, defamation, right of publicity, negligence, unlawful practice of a licensed profession and other legal theories based on the nature, creation or distribution of this information, and under various laws, including the Lanham Act and the Copyright Act. We may also be exposed to similar liability in connection with content that we do not create but that is posted to the media properties we own or host for our partners by users and other third parties through forums, comments, personas and other social media features. In addition, it is possible that visitors to the media properties that we own or host for our partners could bring claims against us for losses incurred in reliance upon information provided on such media properties. These claims, regardless of their merit, could divert management time and attention away from our business and result in significant costs to investigate and defend. If we become subject to these or similar types of claims and are not successful in our defense, we may be forced to pay damages, some of which may be substantial. If the content we distribute through our owned and operated media properties or the media properties we host for our partners violates the intellectual property rights of others or gives rise to other legal claims against us, we could be subject to substantial liability, which could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, we cannot be certain that our internally-developed or acquired systems and technologies do not, and will not, infringe the intellectual property rights of others. We also license content, software and other intellectual property rights from third parties and may be subject to claims of infringement or misappropriation if such parties do not possess the necessary intellectual property rights to the products or services they license to us. We have in the past and may in the future be subject to legal proceedings and claims that we have infringed the patent or other intellectual property rights of a third-party. These claims sometimes involve patent holding companies or other patent owners who have no relevant product revenue and against whom our own patents may provide little or no deterrence. In addition, third parties may in the future assert intellectual property infringement claims against our customers for whom we have produced content, which we have agreed in certain circumstances to indemnify and defend against such claims. Any intellectual property-related infringement or misappropriation claims, whether or not meritorious, could result in costly litigation and could divert management resources and attention. If we are found liable for infringement or misappropriation, we may be required to enter into licensing agreements, if available on acceptable terms or at all, pay substantial damages or limit or curtail our systems and technologies. Also, any successful lawsuit against us could subject us to the invalidation of our proprietary rights. Moreover, we may need to redesign some of our systems and technologies to avoid future infringement liability. Any of the foregoing could prevent us from competing effectively and increase our costs.
We also have perpetual licenses to use the “Saatchi” name in connection with our Saatchi Art marketplace and the “Livestrong.com” name in connection with our Livestrong.com media property, in each case, as permitted by the terms of intellectual property or licensing agreements with third parties who retain the ownership rights to such names. These intellectual property or licensing agreements may be terminated by such third parties if we do not comply with certain requirements contained in the relevant agreements. If either of these licensing arrangements was terminated, we would experience business disruption and would have to incur significant resources to rebrand the relevant business, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we do not adequately protect our intellectual property rights, our competitive position and business may suffer.
Our intellectual property, consisting of trademarks, service marks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, is, in the aggregate, important to our business. We rely on a combination of trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret laws in the United States and other jurisdictions, together with contractual provisions and technical measures that we have implemented, to protect our proprietary rights. We rely more heavily on trade secret protection than patent protection. To protect our trade secrets, we control strict access to our proprietary systems and technology, including our platforms and technical infrastructure, and we enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and
consultants, as well as confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with third parties that provide products and services to us. We face risks related to our intellectual property, including that:
|●||because of the relatively high cost we would experience in registering all of our copyrights with the United States Copyright Office, we generally do not register the copyrights associated with our media content;|
|●||our ability to assert our intellectual property rights against potential competitors or to settle current or future disputes may be limited by our agreements with third parties;|
|●||our intellectual property rights may not be enforced in jurisdictions where legal protections are weak;|
|●||any of the trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets or other intellectual property rights that we presently employ in our business, including our perpetual licenses for the “Livestrong” and “Saatchi” names, could lapse or be invalidated, circumvented, challenged or abandoned;|
|●||competitors may design around our protected systems and technology; or|
|●||we may lose the ability to assert our intellectual property rights against others.|
Effective protection of our trademarks, service marks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets may not be available in all countries where we currently operate or in which we may operate in the future. Policing unauthorized use of our proprietary rights can be difficult and costly. In addition, it may be necessary to enforce or protect our intellectual property rights through litigation or to defend litigation brought against us, which could result in substantial costs, diversion of resources and management attention and could adversely affect our business, even if we are successful on the merits.
Some of our software and systems contain open source software, which may pose risks to our proprietary software and solutions.
We use open source software in our software and systems and will continue to use open source software in the future. The licenses applicable to open source software typically require that the source code subject to the license be made available to the public and that any modifications or derivative works to open source software continue to be licensed under open source licenses. In addition to risks related to license requirements, use of certain open source software can lead to greater risks than use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties, indemnities or other contractual protections with respect to the software (for example, non-infringement or functionality). Our use of open source software may also present additional security risks because the source code for open source software is publicly available, which may make it easier for hackers and other third parties to determine how to breach our sites and systems that rely on open source software. Any of these risks could be difficult to eliminate or manage, and, if not addressed, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Our products and internal systems rely on various complex software systems and, if such systems contain undetected errors or vulnerabilities, our business could be adversely affected.
Our products and internal systems rely on various software systems, including software developed or maintained internally and/or by third parties, that are highly technical and complex. In addition, our products and internal systems depend on the ability of such software to store, retrieve, process, and manage significant amounts of data. The software on which we rely has contained, and may in the future contain, undetected errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities. Some errors may only be discovered after the code has been released for external or internal use. Errors, vulnerabilities, or other design defects within the software on which we rely have in the past resulted in, and may in the future result in, a negative experience for users and marketers who use our products, delays in product introductions or enhancements, targeting, measurement, or billing errors, compromises in our ability to protect the data of our users and/or our intellectual property or reductions in our ability to provide some or all of our services. In addition, any errors, bugs, vulnerabilities, or defects discovered in the software on which we rely, and any associated degradations or interruptions of service, could result in
damage to our reputation, loss of users, loss of revenue, or liability for damages, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The interruption or failure of our information technology and communications systems, or those of third parties that we rely upon, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The availability of our media properties and marketplaces depends on the continuing operation of our information technology and communications systems. Any damage to or failure of our systems, or those of third parties that we rely upon (for example, cloud computing platforms, co-location providers for data servers, storage devices, and network access), could result in interruptions in our service, which could reduce our revenue and profits, and damage our brand. Additionally, if our internal processes do not adequately safeguard against inadvertent coding errors, our online properties may experience disruptions in service and availability. We have previously experienced certain server outages and computer distributed denial of service attacks, and any future server outages at our data center facilities, or our cloud computing providers or distributed denial of service attacks may cause all or portions of our online media properties or marketplaces to become unavailable to users. Our systems are also vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, terrorist attacks, power loss, telecommunications failures, computer viruses or other attempts to harm our systems. Our data centers may also be subject to break-ins, sabotage and intentional acts of vandalism, and to potential disruptions if the operators of these facilities have financial difficulties. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning may not account for all eventualities. The occurrence of a natural disaster, a decision to close a facility we are using without adequate notice for financial reasons or other unanticipated problems at our data centers could result in lengthy interruptions in our service. Delays or interruptions in our service may cause our users, advertisers, partners, customers and/or artists to become dissatisfied with our offerings and could adversely affect our business.
Furthermore, third-party service providers may experience an interruption in operations or cease operations for any reason. If we are unable to agree on satisfactory terms for continued data center hosting or cloud computing relationships, we would be forced to enter into a relationship with other service providers or assume hosting responsibilities ourselves. If we are forced to switch hosting facilities or cloud computing providers, we may not be successful in finding an alternative service provider on acceptable terms or in hosting the computer servers ourselves. We may also be limited in our remedies against these providers in the event of a failure of service. We also rely on third parties to provide certain components of our technology platform, such as hardware, storage and software providers, and to serve as operators for our content delivery networks. A failure or limitation of service or available capacity by any of these third-party providers could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on technology infrastructure and a failure to update or maintain this technology infrastructure, or difficulty scaling and adapting our existing technology and network infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic, could adversely affect our business.
Significant portions of our content, products and services are dependent on technology infrastructure that was developed over multiple years. To be successful, this infrastructure has to perform well and be reliable. The greater the user traffic and the greater the complexity of our products and services, the more computing power and network bandwidth resources we will need. In the future, we may spend substantial amounts to purchase or lease data centers and equipment, purchase additional significant cloud computing resources, upgrade our technology and infrastructure to handle increased traffic on our online properties and roll out new products and services. Updating and replacing our technology infrastructure could be challenging to implement and manage, take time to test and deploy, cause us to incur substantial costs, cause us to suffer data loss, delays or interruptions in service or result in inefficiencies or operational failures. If we do not successfully update our technology and infrastructure as needed, or if we experience inefficiencies and operational failures during such updates, the quality of our products and services and our users’ experience could decline, which could damage our reputation and lead us to lose current and potential users, advertisers, partners, customers and artists. Failure to update our technology infrastructure as new technologies become available may also put us in a weaker position relative to a number of our key competitors. Competitors with newer technology infrastructure may have greater flexibility and be in a position to respond more quickly than us to new opportunities, which may impact our competitive position in certain markets and adversely affect our business. The costs associated with any adjustments to our technology and infrastructure could also harm our operating results. Cost increases, loss of traffic or failure to accommodate new technologies could harm our business, revenue and financial condition.
Regulations concerning privacy and protection of data could subject us to claims or otherwise harm our business and changes in these regulations could diminish the value of our services and cause us to lose visitors and revenue, and changes in the regulation of the Internet could adversely affect our business.
We receive, process, store, share, disclose and use personally identifiable data, or personal data, from users of our online properties, freelance professionals who provide services to our media properties and artists who post artwork or designs on our marketplaces. When a user visits one of our websites or certain pages of our content channel customers’ websites, we use technologies, including “cookies,” to collect information related to the user, such as the user’s Internet Protocol, (“IP”) address, demographic information, and history of the user’s interactions with content or advertisements previously delivered by us. The information that we collect about our users helps us deliver content and advertising targeted to these users.
The collection, processing, storing, sharing, use, disclosure and protection of personal information and user data are subject to federal, state, local and foreign laws. The scope of these laws is changing, they are subject to differing interpretations and they may be costly to comply with and may be inconsistent between countries and jurisdictions or conflict with other rules. Numerous jurisdictions are currently considering, or have recently enacted, data protection legislation.
Internationally, nearly every jurisdiction in which we conduct businesses and/or collect personal data, has established its own privacy, data protection and/or data security legal framework with which we or our customers must comply, including but not limited to the European Union (the “EU”). In the EU, data protection laws are stringent and continue to evolve, resulting in possible significant operational costs for internal compliance and risk to our businesses. Specifically, the EU has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which became effective and enforceable across all then-current member states of the EU on May 25, 2018 and contains numerous requirements and changes from prior EU law, including more robust obligations on data processors and heavier documentation requirements for data protection compliance programs by companies. Specifically, the GDPR introduced numerous privacy-related changes for companies operating in the EU, including heightened notice and consent requirements, greater control for data subjects (e.g., the “right to be forgotten”), increased data portability for EU consumers, additional data breach notification and data security requirements, requirements for engaging third-party processors, and increased fines. In particular, under the GDPR, fines of up to 20 million Euros or up to 4% of the annual global revenue of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater, could be imposed for violations of certain of the GDPR’s requirements. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies and obtain compensation for damages.
Additionally, the GDPR imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data outside of the EU to countries that do not ensure an adequate level of protection, like the United States (so-called “third countries”). These transfers are prohibited unless an appropriate safeguard specified by the GDPR is implemented, such as the Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”) approved by the European Commission or binding corporate rules, or a derogation applies. The Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) recently deemed that transfers made pursuant to the EU SCCs and other alternative transfer mechanisms, including binding corporate rules, need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis to ensure EU standards of data protection are met in the jurisdiction where the data importer is based, and there continue to be concerns about whether these transfer mechanisms will face additional challenges. European regulators have issued recent guidance following the CJEU case that imposes significant new diligence requirements on transferring data outside the EU, including under an approved transfer mechanism. Complying with this guidance will be expensive and time consuming and may ultimately prevent us from transferring personal data outside the EU, which would cause significant business disruption.
The regulatory framework governing the collection, processing, storage, use and sharing of personal information, is rapidly evolving and is likely to continue to be subject to uncertainty and varying interpretations. It is possible that these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our existing data management practices or the features of our services and platform capabilities. Any failure or perceived failure by us, or any third parties with which we do business, to comply with our posted privacy policies, changing consumer expectations, evolving laws, rules and regulations, industry standards, or contractual obligations to which we or such third parties are or may become subject, may result in actions or other claims against us by governmental entities or private actors, the expenditure of substantial costs, time and other resources or the incurrence of significant fines, penalties or other liabilities.
We post privacy policies on all of our owned and operated websites. These privacy policies set forth our policies and practices related to the collection, processing, storage, use, sharing, disclosure and protection of personal data. Existing privacy related laws and regulations in the United States and in foreign countries are evolving and subject to potentially differing interpretations. In addition, new laws may be enacted, new industry self-regulation may be promulgated, or existing laws may be amended to re-interpreted, in a manner that limits our ability to analyze user data. If requirements regarding the manner in which certain personal information and other user data are processed and stored change significantly, our business may be adversely affected, impacting our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we may be exposed to potential liabilities as a result of differing views on the level of privacy required for consumer and other user data we collect. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us or various third-party vendors and service providers to comply with applicable privacy policies, laws, regulations or industry standards could result in a loss of consumer confidence in us, or result in actions against us by governmental entities or others, all of which could potentially cause us to lose consumers and revenue. We may also need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches, including encrypting personal information, or remedy breaches after they occur, including notifying each person whose personal data may have been compromised and offering to provide credit monitoring services. In the event of any data breach, we may be subject to regulatory investigations, fines and lawsuits. We may also lose actual and potential business in the event of any data security breach. In addition, to the extent we were found to be guilty of violations or otherwise liable for damages, would damage our reputation and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Legal, Regulatory, Accounting and Tax Matters
Actions of activist stockholders could cause us to incur substantial costs, divert management’s and the board’s attention and resources, and have an adverse effect on our business and stock price.
Since January 2019, we have been the subject of several different shareholder activist campaigns which included the nomination of an alternative slate of directors, public attacks of management and our Board and requests that the Company be sold. These attacks by shareholder activists have caused the Company to incur substantial costs relating to the defense from these attacks and diverted the attention of management and the Board and we believe have had an adverse effect on our business and stock price. In February 2021, an activist group nominated candidates for election of directors in opposition to our slate at the 2021 Annual Meeting. If the activist group conducts a proxy contest to elect its candidates, we again will be required to retain the services of various legal, financial and communications advisers to assist us in the defense of this proxy contest, and the costs related thereto will negatively impact our future financial results. This proxy contest will be time consuming and will again divert the attention the attention of management and our board of directors. In addition, perceived uncertainties as to our future direction, strategy or leadership created as a consequence of activist stockholder initiatives may result in the loss of potential business opportunities, harm our ability to attract new investors, customers, and employees, and cause our stock price to experience periods of volatility or stagnation.
The intangible assets and goodwill on our balance sheet may be subject to impairment. If our intangible assets or goodwill become impaired, we may be required to record a significant non-cash charge to earnings, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
We carry a substantial amount of intangible assets on our balance sheet, primarily from certain past acquisitions. We assess potential impairments to our intangible assets and goodwill when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of such intangible assets or goodwill may not be recoverable. As of December 31, 2020, our goodwill balance was $19.3 million. We performed our annual impairment analysis in the fourth quarter of the year ended December 31, 2020, and based on the results, there were no goodwill impairment charges for the year ended December 31, 2020. Future significant and sustained declines in our stock price and market capitalization relative to our book value or our inability to generate sufficient revenue or cash flows from our long-lived media content or the businesses that we have acquired may result in us having to take additional impairment charges against certain of our intangible assets or goodwill. If we are required to record additional impairment charges in future periods, it could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition, particularly in the period such charge is taken.
We are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States and abroad that may subject us to claims or other remedies. Our failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may subject us to additional liabilities, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Laws and regulations that are particularly relevant to our business address freedom of expression; information security; privacy and data collection; pricing and fees; employment related matters; online content and the distribution of content, including liability for user reliance on such content; intellectual property rights, including secondary liability for infringement by others; product liability claims; taxation, including value added and sales tax; online advertising and marketing, including email marketing, unsolicited commercial email, native advertising and sponsored content. See “ — Regulations concerning privacy and protection of data could subject us to claims or otherwise harm our business and changes in these regulations could diminish the value of our services and cause us to lose visitors and revenue.”
In the United States, Congress has adopted legislation that regulates certain aspects of the Internet, including the Communications Decency Act (the “CDA”), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Lanham Act, the CAN-SPAM Act, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Advertising and promotional information presented to visitors on our online properties, our related social media channels and through our other marketing activities are subject to federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations that govern unfair and deceptive practices. Many applicable laws were adopted prior to the advent of the Internet and do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the Internet. Moreover, the applicability and scope of the laws that do address the internet remain uncertain. For example, the laws relating to the liability of providers of online services are evolving. For instance, in the United States, laws such as the CDA, which have previously been interpreted to provide substantial protection to interactive computer service providers, may change and become less predictable or unfavorable by legislative action or juridical interpretation. There have been various federal legislative efforts to restrict the scope of the protections available to online platforms under the CDA, in particular with regards to Section 230 of the CDA, and current protections from liability for third-party content in the United States could decrease or change. If the CDA is amended in a manner that reduces protections for our platform, we will need to increase our content moderation operations, which may harm our results of operations. Claims have been either threatened or filed against us under both U.S. and foreign laws for defamation, copyright infringement, patent infringement, privacy violations, cybersquatting, trademark infringement and discrimination. In the future, claims may also be brought against us based on tort law liability and other theories based on our content, products and services or content generated by our users.
We must also comply with certain foreign and U.S. laws and regulations that apply to our international operations, including the FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Act and regulations issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, OFAC, the U.S. Commerce Department and various foreign governmental agencies. The FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and similar anti-bribery laws in other jurisdictions generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business and require companies to maintain accurate books and records. OFAC regulations prohibit U.S.-based entities from entering into or facilitating transactions with, for the benefit of, or involving the property of, persons, governments or countries designated by the U.S. government under one or more sanctions regimes, which could include transactions that provide a benefit that is received in an OFAC designated country. Additionally, some of the products and services we provide to customers globally may require approval under applicable U.S. export and customs laws.
In addition, laws, rules and regulations governing internet communications, advertising and e-commerce are dynamic and the extent of future government regulation is uncertain. In addition, changes in laws or regulations that adversely affect the growth, popularity or use of the internet, including potentially the recent repeal in the United States of net neutrality, could decrease the demand of our offerings and increase our cost of doing business. Existing or future regulation could hinder growth in or adversely affect the use of the internet generally, including the viability of internet e-commerce, which could reduce our revenue, increase our operating expenses and expose us to significant liabilities.
There are also various statutes, regulations, and rulings relevant to the direct email marketing and text-messaging industries, including the TCPA and related FCC orders. The TCPA, restricts telemarking and the use of automated telephone equipment, and limits the use of automatic dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages and fax machines. It also applies to unsolicited text messages advertising the commercial availability of goods
and services. We may in the future be subject to one or more class-action lawsuits, as well as individual lawsuits, containing allegations that one of our businesses or customers violated the TCPA. A determination that we or our customers violated the TCPA or other communications-based statutes could expose us to significant damage awards that could, individually or in the aggregate, materially harm our business.
The costs of compliance with these regulations may increase in the future as a result of changes in the regulations or the interpretation of them. Further, if we fail to comply with applicable laws and regulations, we could be exposed to claims for damages, financial penalties, reputational harm, incarceration of our employees or restrictions on our operations, which could increase our costs of operations, reduce our profits or cause us to forgo opportunities that would otherwise support our growth.
Changes in state, federal or international taxation laws and regulations may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
State, local and foreign taxing jurisdictions have differing rules and regulations governing sales, use, value added and similar taxes and these rules and regulations are subject to varying interpretations that may change over time. We do not collect such taxes in every jurisdiction in which we have sales based on our belief that such taxes are not applicable. Certain jurisdictions in which we do not collect sales, use, value added or similar taxes on our sales may assert that such taxes are applicable, which could result in tax assessments, penalties and interest for prior periods for which it was not collected or accrued, and a requirement to collect such taxes in the future. Such tax assessments, penalties and interest, or future requirements, including implementing products and technologies to calculate, collect and remit such taxes, may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In general, we have not historically collected state or local sales, use or other similar taxes in any jurisdictions in which we do not have a tax nexus, in reliance on court decisions or applicable exemptions that restrict or preclude the imposition of obligations to collect such taxes with respect to online sales of our products, or in certain jurisdictions in which we do have a physical presence, in reliance on applicable exemptions. In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. et al, a case challenging existing law that online sellers are not required to collect sales and use tax unless they have a physical presence in the buyer’s state, the Supreme Court decided that states may adopt laws requiring sellers to collect sales and use tax, even in states where the seller has no physical presence. As a result of Wayfair, states or the federal government may adopt, or begin to enforce, laws requiring us to calculate, collect, and remit taxes on sales in their jurisdictions.
The details and effective dates of these collection requirements vary from state to state. As regulations and requirements evolve, we conduct analyses to determine how and when our collection practices will need to change in the relevant jurisdictions. A successful assertion by one or more states requiring us to collect taxes where we presently do not do so, or to collect more taxes in a jurisdiction in which we currently do collect some taxes, could result in substantial tax liabilities, including taxes on past sales, as well as penalties and interest. The imposition by state governments of sales tax collection obligations on out-of-state retailers could also create additional administrative burdens for us, put us at a competitive disadvantage if they do not impose similar obligations on our competitors and decrease our future sales, which could have a material adverse impact on our business and operating results.
Due to the global nature of the internet, it is possible that, although our services and the internet transmissions related to them typically originate in Nevada and California, governments of other states or foreign countries might attempt to regulate our transmissions or levy sales, income or other taxes relating to our activities. Tax authorities at the international, federal, state and local levels are also currently reviewing the appropriate treatment of companies engaged in internet commerce. New or revised international, federal, state or local tax regulations may subject us or our customers to additional sales, income, value added and other taxes. We cannot predict the effect of current attempts to impose sales, income, value added or other taxes on commerce over the internet. New or revised taxes and, in particular, additional sales taxes or value added, would likely increase the cost of doing business online and decrease the attractiveness of advertising and selling goods and services over the internet. New taxes could also create significant increases in internal costs necessary to capture data and collect and remit taxes. Any of these events could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In general, the tax regimes we are subject to or operate under, including income and non-income taxes, are unsettled and may be subject to significant change. Changes to tax laws (which changes may have retroactive
application) could adversely affect us or holders of our common stock. In recent years, many such changes have been made and changes are likely to continue to occur in the future. Future changes in tax laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.
A reclassification by tax authorities of any freelance professionals we currently or have previously contracted with from independent contractors to employees could require us to pay retroactive taxes and penalties and significantly increase our cost of operations.
We contract with freelance professionals to create the substantial majority of the content for our media properties and we continue to contract with freelance professionals for various purposes, including to develop, create and edit content, and otherwise contribute to the content creation process, for our media properties and the media properties we host for our partners. Because we consider the freelance professionals who we contract with or have contracted with to be independent contractors, as opposed to employees, we do not withhold federal or state income or other employment related taxes, make federal or state unemployment tax or Federal Insurance Contributions Act payments, or provide workers’ compensation insurance with respect to such freelance professionals. Our contracts with freelance professionals that are classified as independent contractors obligate the freelance professionals to pay these taxes. The classification of freelance professionals as independent contractors depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each relationship. In the event of a determination by federal or state taxing authorities that any freelance professionals we engage or have engaged as independent contractors are employees, we may be adversely affected and subject to retroactive taxes and penalties. In addition, if the freelance professionals we categorize as independent contractors were deemed to be employees, our costs associated with content creation could increase significantly, we could potentially incur fines, penalties or other damages, and our financial results would be adversely affected.
Laws and regulations that govern the status and classification of independent contractors are also subject to change as well as to divergent interpretations by various authorities, which can create uncertainty and unpredictability. For example, in California, we are aware of the state supreme court's 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County and Charles Lee, Real Party in Interest, 4 Cal.5th 903 (Cal. 2018) as well as newly enacted legislation California Assembly Bill 5 (“AB 5”), which went into effect January 1, 2020 and which has the stated purpose of codifying the Dynamex holding. Together, they change the standard in California for determining worker classification and are widely viewed as expanding the scope of the definition of employee for most purposes under California law. Given the recent enactment of AB 5, there is no guidance from the courts or the regulatory authorities charged with its enforcement and there is a significant degree of uncertainty regarding its application. In addition, AB 5 has been the subject of widespread national discussion and it is possible that other jurisdictions may enact similar laws. As a result, there is significant uncertainty regarding what the worker classification regulatory landscape will look like in future years and any changes could harm our business and financial results.
We may not succeed in expanding our businesses internationally, which may limit our future growth. Additionally, operating internationally exposes us to certain additional risks and operating costs, including the impact of foreign currency fluctuations and the impact of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union.
Approximately 10% of our revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 were derived from customers located outside of the U.S. or where the anticipated destination of use of our offerings was outside the U.S. The artwork and designs sold through our marketplaces are created by a global community of artists and designers and sold to customers around the world. In addition, Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair hosts art fairs in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. We also own and operate certain foreign language websites. We cannot be certain that we will be successful in marketing our products and services internationally or that our products and services will gain market acceptance in new geographic markets. If we are unable to expand and market our products and services internationally, it could have a negative effect on our future growth prospects.
In addition, the Pandemic has led to intensified efforts to contain the spread of this novel coronavirus. The outbreak and any preventative or protective actions that governments, other third parties or we may take in respect of the coronavirus has already resulted and may continue to result in the cancellation of or postponement of our fairs and events, including Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair. We elected to cancel all art fairs scheduled through 2020. Postponement and cancellation of our fairs and events, particularly if we are unable to reschedule could harm our business and financial results.
In addition to many of the same challenges we face domestically, there are risks and costs inherent in conducting business in international markets, including the need to localize our products and services to foreign customers’ preferences and customs, difficulties in managing operations due to language barriers, distance, staffing and cultural differences, application of foreign laws and regulations to us, tariffs and other trade barriers, fluctuations in currency exchange rates, establishing management and financial systems and infrastructures, reduced protection for intellectual property rights in some countries, changes in foreign political and economic conditions, the effects of global epidemics and potentially adverse tax consequences. In addition, although we currently present and settle all sales through our online marketplaces in U.S. dollars, if foreign currencies decline relative to the U.S. dollar, this may have the impact of making the pricing for the products available on our marketplaces appear higher in the markets with the currency declines. Operating internationally, where we have limited experience, exposes us to additional risks and operating costs that may outweigh the financial and other benefits of operating in such markets.
On June 23, 2016, in a referendum vote commonly referred to as “Brexit,” a majority of British voters voted to exit the European Union and, in March 2017, the British government delivered formal notice of the U.K.’s intention to leave the EU. Following such referendum vote, effective as of January 31, 2020, the U.K. formally left the European Union, subject to a transition period that ended on December 31, 2020. Brexit has caused significant volatility in global stock markets and fluctuations in currency exchange rates. The U.K.’s departure from the European Union has caused and may continue to cause delays in purchasing decisions by our potential and current customers affected by this transition and there is considerable uncertainty as to the long-term nature of the U.K.'s relationship with the European Union. The U.K.’s departure from the European Union may also result in new regulatory and cost challenges to our U.K. and global operations. The U.K.’s departure from the European Union has also created uncertainty with regard to the regulation of data protection in the U.K. For example, the U.K. Data Protection Act that, which substantially implements the GDPR, became effective in May 2018. It remains unclear, however, how U.K. data protection laws or regulations will develop and be interpreted in the medium to longer term and how data transfers to and from the U.K. will be regulated and how those regulations may differ from those in the European Union. As a result of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union and the terms of the U.K.’s long-term relationship with the European Union, it is possible that there may be adverse practical or operational implications on our business. In addition, Brexit may lead other European Union member countries to consider referendums regarding their European Union membership. Any of these events, along with any political, economic and regulatory changes that may occur, could cause political and economic uncertainty in Europe and internationally and harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As a public company, we are subject to compliance initiatives that require substantial time from our management and result in significantly increased costs.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, and other rules implemented by the SEC and the NYSE, impose various requirements on public companies, including requirements related to certain corporate governance practices. Compliance with these rules and regulations has resulted in significantly increased costs for us as a public company than we incurred as a private company, including substantially higher costs to obtain comparable levels of director and officer liability insurance. Proposed corporate governance laws and regulations under consideration may further increase our compliance costs. If compliance with these various legal and regulatory requirements diverts our management’s attention from other business concerns, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Additionally, these laws and regulations may make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors, on committees of our board of directors, or as executive officers.
We are required to make an assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. We are also required to obtain an opinion on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting from our independent registered public accounting firm. Section 404 requires us to perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal controls over financial reporting to allow management and our independent registered public accounting firm to report on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting for each fiscal year. Our testing, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses. If we are unable to comply with the requirements of Section 404, management may not be able to assess whether our internal controls over financial reporting are effective, which may subject us to adverse regulatory consequences and could result in a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a
loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements. In addition, if we fail to maintain effective controls and procedures, we may be unable to provide the required financial information in a timely and reliable manner or otherwise comply with the standards applicable to us as a public company. Any failure by us to provide the required financial information in a timely and reliable manner could materially and adversely impact our financial condition and the trading price of our securities. In addition, we may incur additional expenses and commitment of management’s time in connection with further assessments of our compliance with the requirements of Section 404, which could materially increase our operating expenses and adversely impact our results of operations.
Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock
The trading price of our common stock has been and is likely to continue to be volatile, which may lead to you not being able to resell shares of our common stock at or above the price you paid, securities litigation or hostile or otherwise unfavorable actions by stockholders or others.
The trading price of our common stock has been volatile since our initial public offering in January 2011, and is likely to continue to be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. For example, in 2016, we were selected to be part of a two-year Tick Size Pilot Program approved by the SEC and implemented by the national securities exchanges and FINRA. The Tick Size Pilot Program commenced in October 2016 and concluded in October 2018. Pursuant to this program, our common stock was quoted and traded in $0.05 minimum increments. As a result, we experienced lower average daily trading volume while the program was in place and could continue to experience such lower trading volume, which could also lead to greater volatility in the trading price of our common stock or a less liquid market for our stock to trade. In addition, an active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained, which could depress the market price of our common stock. In addition to the factors discussed in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this report, factors that may cause the trading price of our common stock to be volatile include:
|●||our operating performance and the operating performance of similar companies;|
|●||low trading volume in our stock, which creates inherent volatility regardless of factors related to our business performance or prospects;|
|●||actions by activist stockholders;|
|●||the overall performance of the equity markets;|
|●||the number of shares of our common stock publicly owned and available for trading;|
|●||announcements by us or our competitors of acquisitions, business plans, commercial relationships or new product or service offerings;|
|●||any major change in our board of directors or management;|
|●||publication of research reports about us (including, but not limited to, the performance of our business or certain key operating metrics) or our industries or changes in recommendations or withdrawal of research coverage by securities analysts;|
|●||the effects and impacts of the Pandemic and increased market volatility due to uncertainty surrounding the Pandemic; and|
|●||general political and economic conditions, including any negative economic effects or instability, changes in the political environment and international relations and regulatory or tax policy changes.|
In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for internet-related companies in particular, has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating
performance of those companies. Broad market and industry factors may affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. As a result of this volatility, you may not be able to sell your common stock at or above the price paid for the shares. In addition, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the overall market and in the market price of a company’s securities. This litigation, if instituted against us, could result in very substantial costs, divert our management’s attention and resources and harm our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Moreover, a low or declining stock price may make us attractive to hedge funds and other short-term investors, which could result in substantial stock price volatility and cause fluctuations in trading volumes of our stock. A relatively low stock price may also cause us to become subject to an unsolicited or hostile acquisition bid. There can be no assurance that a third-party will not make an unsolicited takeover proposal in the future or take other action to acquire control of us or to otherwise influence our management and policies. Considering and responding to any future proposal is likely to result in significant additional costs to us, and future acquisition proposals, other stockholder actions to acquire control and the litigation that often accompanies them, if any, are likely to be costly and time-consuming and may disrupt our operations and divert the attention of management and our employees from executing our strategic plan. Furthermore, in the event that such a bid is publicly disclosed, it may result in increased speculation and volatility in our stock price even if our board of directors decides not to pursue a transaction.
The large number of shares of our common stock eligible for public sale could depress the market price of our common stock.
The market price of our common stock could decline as a result of sales of a large number of shares of our common stock in the market, and the perception that these sales could occur may also depress the market price of our common stock, particularly following the disbanding of the Investor Group. In particular, certain of our existing stockholders are venture funds or investment funds and they may make distributions to their limited and general partners, who then would be free to sell shares of our common stock in the public market. These distributions and/or sales by venture funds or investment funds could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline. For example, Oak Investment Partners XII LP, our largest shareholder, sold 239,132 shares in 2019 and 530,256 shares in 2020 as of November 30, 2020. As of February 22, 2021, we had 35,800,651 shares of common stock outstanding (excluding shares held in treasury). As of February 22, 2021, we also had over nine million shares of common stock reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans, of which approximately four million shares are registered under our registration statement on Form S-8 on file with the SEC. Subject to the satisfaction of applicable exercise periods, vesting requirements and, in certain cases, performance conditions, the shares of registered common stock issued upon exercise of outstanding options, vesting of future awards or pursuant to purchases under our employee stock purchase plan (the “ESPP”) will be available for immediate resale in the open market. We also have previously, and may from time to time in the future, issue shares of our common stock as consideration for acquisitions and investments. If any such acquisition or investment is significant, the number of shares that we may issue may in turn be significant. In addition, certain stockholders are eligible to resell shares of common stock under Rule 144 and Rule 701 without registering such shares with the SEC. Sales of our common stock may make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. These sales could also cause our stock price to fall and make it more difficult for shareholders to sell shares of our common stock.
Our stock repurchase program may be suspended or terminated at any time, which may result in a decrease in the trading price of our common stock.
Our board of directors previously approved a stock repurchase program under which we are authorized to repurchase up to $50.0 million of our common stock, of which approximately $14.3 million remained available as of December 31, 2020. Such stock repurchases may be limited, suspended, or terminated at any time without prior notice. There can be no assurance that we will repurchase additional shares of our common stock under our stock repurchase program or that any future repurchases will have a positive impact on the trading price of our common stock or earnings per share. Important factors that could cause us to limit, suspend or terminate our stock repurchase program include, among others, unfavorable market conditions, the trading price of our common stock, the nature of other investment or strategic opportunities presented to us from time to time, the rate of dilution of our equity compensation programs, the availability of adequate funds, and our ability to make appropriate, timely, and beneficial decisions as to when, how, and whether to purchase shares under the stock repurchase program. If we limit, suspend or terminate our stock repurchase program, our stock price may be negatively affected.
If securities or industry analysts publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price and trading volume to decline.
We do not anticipate paying cash dividends and, accordingly, stockholders must rely on stock appreciation for any return on their investment.
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock and we do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the future. In addition, our revolving credit facility contains restrictions on ability to pay dividends. As a result, only appreciation of the price of our common stock, which may never occur, will provide a return to stockholders. Investors seeking cash dividends should not invest in our common stock.
Certain provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law could discourage takeover attempts and lead to management entrenchment.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could have the effect of delaying or preventing changes in control or changes in our management without the consent of our board of directors, including, among other things:
|●||a classified board of directors with three-year staggered terms, which may delay the ability of stockholders to change the membership of a majority of our board of directors;|
|●||no cumulative voting in the election of directors, which limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates;|
|●||the ability of our board of directors to determine to issue shares of preferred stock and to determine the price and other terms of those shares, including preferences and voting rights, without stockholder approval, which could be used to significantly dilute the ownership of a hostile acquirer;|
|●||the exclusive right of our board of directors to elect a director to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of our board of directors or the resignation, death or removal of a director, which prevents stockholders from being able to fill vacancies on our board of directors;|
|●||a prohibition on stockholder action by written consent, which forces stockholder action to be taken at an annual or special meeting of our stockholders;|
|●||the requirement that a special meeting of stockholders may be called only by the chair of our board of directors, the Chief Executive Officer, the president (in absence of a Chief Executive Officer) or our board of directors, which may delay the ability of our stockholders to force consideration of a proposal or to take action, including the removal of directors;|
|●||the requirement for the affirmative vote of holders of at least 66 2/3% of the voting power of all of the then outstanding shares of the voting stock, voting together as a single class, to amend the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation relating to the issuance of preferred stock and management of our business or our amended and restated bylaws, which may inhibit the ability of an acquirer from amending our certificate of incorporation or bylaws to facilitate a hostile acquisition;|
|●||the ability of our board of directors, by majority vote, to amend the bylaws, which may allow our board of directors to take additional actions to prevent a hostile acquisition and inhibit the ability of an acquirer from amending the bylaws to facilitate a hostile acquisition; and|
|●||advance notice procedures that stockholders must comply with in order to nominate candidates to our board of directors or to propose matters to be acted upon at a stockholders’ meeting, which may discourage or deter a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.|
We are also subject to certain anti-takeover provisions under Delaware law. Under Delaware law, a corporation may not, in general, engage in a business combination with any holder of 15% or more of its capital stock unless the holder has held the stock for three years or, among other things, our board of directors has approved the transaction.
Our amended and restated bylaws designate specific courts as the exclusive forums for certain litigation that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us.
Pursuant to our amended and restated bylaws, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the sole and exclusive forum for any state law claims for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (2) any action asserting a claim of, or a claim based on, a breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any current or former director, officer, or other employee to us or our stockholders, (3) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws (including the interpretation, validity, or enforceability thereof), or (4) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, or the Delaware Forum Provision. The Delaware Forum Provision will not apply to any causes of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. Our amended and restated bylaws further provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the sole and exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, or the Federal Forum Provision. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to the Delaware Forum Provision and the Federal Forum Provision; provided, however, that stockholders cannot and will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.
The Delaware Forum Provision and the Federal Forum Provision in our amended and restated bylaws may impose additional litigation costs on stockholders in pursuing any such claims. Additionally, these forum selection clauses may limit our stockholders’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, which may discourage the filing of lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees, even though an action, if successful, might benefit our stockholders. In addition, while the Delaware Supreme Court ruled in March 2020 that federal forum selection provisions purporting to require claims under the Securities Act be brought in federal court are “facially valid” under Delaware law, there is uncertainty as to whether other courts will enforce our Federal Forum Provision. If the Federal Forum Provision is found to be unenforceable, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters. The Federal Forum Provision may also impose additional litigation costs on stockholders who assert that the provision is not enforceable or invalid. The Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and the federal district courts of the United States of America may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder considering an action may be located or would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments may be more or less favorable to us than our stockholders.
If we cannot continue to meet the continued listing requirements of the NYSE, the NYSE may delist our common stock.
On April 10, 2020, we received notice (“Notice”) from the NYSE that we were no longer in compliance with NYSE continued listing standards set forth in Section 802.01B of the NYSE’s Listed Company Manual due to the fact
that our average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30 trading-day period was less than $50 million and, at the same time, our stockholders’ equity was less than $50 million.
We submitted a plan to the NYSE setting forth the actions intended to be taken by us to return to conformity with Section 802.01B within 18 months of the date of the Notice. On July 9, 2020, the NYSE provided us with a notice that it accepted our plan to regain compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing standards. On December 10, 2020, we received written notice from the NYSE stating that we had regained compliance with the NYSE’s minimum market capitalization and stockholders’ equity requirements for the past two quarters and that we were considered in compliance with the NYSE quantitative continued listing standards. We are subject to a standard 12-month follow-up period within which we will be reviewed to ensure that we do not fall below any of the NYSE’s continued listing standards.
Any future failure to maintain our NYSE listing could negatively impact us and our stockholders by reducing the willingness of investors to hold our common stock because of any decreased price, liquidity and trading of our common stock, limited availability of price quotations, and reduced news and analyst coverage, and would adversely affect our ability to raise additional financing through the public or private sale of equity securities. Any of these developments may also require brokers trading in our common stock to adhere to more stringent rules and may limit our ability to raise capital by issuing additional shares of common stock in the future. A delisting could adversely impact the perception of our financial condition and cause reputational harm with investors and parties conducting business with the Company.
Unresolved Staff Comments
We do not own any real estate. We currently occupy approximately 52,000 square feet of office space in a Santa Monica, California facility that serves as our corporate headquarters. The lease for our Santa Monica facility expires in July 2024. We lease additional facilities and purchase service memberships in Denver, Colorado, New York, New York and London, United Kingdom. We also make arrangements for shared office space to supplement the needs of our business in other locations. Our primary data center is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. We believe that our current data centers and office facilities will be adequate for the foreseeable future.
From time to time, we are a party to various legal matters incidental to the conduct of our business. Certain of our outstanding legal matters include speculative claims for indeterminate amounts of damages. We record a liability when we believe that it is probable that a loss has been incurred and the amount can be reasonably estimated. Based on our current knowledge, we do not believe that there is a reasonable possibility that the final outcome of the pending or threatened legal proceedings to which we are a party, either individually or in the aggregate, will have a material adverse effect on our future financial results. However, the outcome of such legal matters is subject to significant uncertainties.
Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Holders of Record
As of February 22, 2021, our common stock was held by 34 stockholders of record. A substantially greater number of holders of our common stock are “street name” holders, or beneficial holders, whose shares are held of record by banks, brokers and other financial institutions.
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock. We currently do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Instead, we anticipate that all of our earnings will be used to provide working capital, to support our operations and to finance the growth and development of our business. Any future determination to declare cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, any applicable debt covenant requirements, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. In addition, the terms of our credit facility place certain limitations on the amount of cash dividends we can pay, even if no amounts are currently outstanding.
The following performance graph shall not be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or incorporated by reference into any filing of Leaf Group under the Securities Act, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing.
The graph compares the cumulative total return of our common stock for the five-year period starting on December 31, 2015, and ending on December 31, 2020, with that of the S&P 500 Index and RDG Internet Composite Index over the same period. The graph assumes that the value of the investment was $100 on December 31, 2015, and
that all dividends and other distributions were reinvested. Such returns are based on historical results and are not intended to suggest future performance.
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities and Use of Proceeds
We did not issue or sell any equity securities that were not registered under the Securities Act during the year ended December 31, 2020.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
As disclosed in our current report on Form 8-K filed on August 22, 2011, our board of directors approved a stock repurchase program authorizing us to repurchase up to $25.0 million of our outstanding common stock, effective as of August 19, 2011. Our board of directors subsequently approved a $25.0 million increase to this stock repurchase program, for an aggregate authorized repurchase amount of $50.0 million, as disclosed in a current report on Form 8-K filed on February 16, 2012. In total, as of December 31, 2020, we had spent approximately $35.7 million of the authorized $50.0 million to repurchase shares of our common stock under the stock repurchase program. The stock
repurchase program does not require us to purchase a specific number of shares, and the timing and actual number of shares repurchased will depend on various factors including price, corporate and regulatory requirements, any applicable debt covenant requirements, alternative investment opportunities and other market conditions. Stock repurchases may be effected through negotiated transactions or open market purchases, including pursuant to a trading plan implemented pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 of the Exchange Act. The stock repurchase program does not have an expiration date but may be suspended, modified or discontinued at any time without prior notice. We did not repurchase any of our common stock during the year ended December 31, 2020.
Item 6. Reserved
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition to historical data, this discussion contains forward-looking statements about our business, operations and financial performance based on current expectations that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Our actual results may differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including but not limited to those discussed in “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and Item I, Part 1A, “Risk Factors” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Information pertaining to fiscal year 2018 was included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 under Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” which was filed with the SEC on March 16, 2020.
Leaf Group is a diversified consumer internet company that builds enduring, creator-driven brands that reach passionate audiences in large and growing lifestyle categories, including fitness and wellness and home, art and design.
Prior to the third quarter of fiscal 2020, we had two reportable segments, Marketplaces and Media. Marketplaces included our Society6 and Saatchi Art e-commerce marketplaces and Media referred to our sites, monetized primarily through advertising. During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, to further increase visibility into our business, we divided our Marketplaces segment into two separate segments, referred to as Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group. Society6 Group includes both our direct-to-consumer line and our business-to-business line. Saatchi Art Group likewise includes both our direct-to-consumer and business-to-business lines, as well as The Other Art Fair’s live fairs. Our Media segment remains intact and renamed Media Group. We have recast all prior period amounts and segment information to reflect the new segmentation.
Through our Society6 Group segment, we operate leading art and design marketplaces where large communities of artists and designers can market and sell their original art and designs printed on a wide variety of products. Our made-to-order marketplaces through Society6 Group provide artists and designers with an online commerce platform to feature and sell their original art and designs on an array of consumer products primarily in the home décor category. Society6 Group segment primarily generates revenue from the sale of made-to-order products.
Saatchi Art Group
Saatchi Art Group segment, inclusive of SaatchiArt.com (“Saatchi Art”) and its art fair event brand, The Other Art Fair, is a leading online art gallery where a global community of artists exhibit and sell their original artwork directly to consumers through a curated online gallery or in-person at art fairs hosted in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Saatchi Art’s online art gallery features a wide selection of original paintings, drawings, sculptures and photography. Saatchi Art Group segment primarily generates revenue through commissions on the final sale price of original works of art and from various sources relating to the hosting of in-person art fairs, including commissions from the sale of original art, fees paid by artists for stands and through sponsorship opportunities with third-party brands and advertisers.
Our Media Group segment brands educate and entertain consumers across a wide variety of life topics, including the popular fitness and wellness and home and design verticals. In the fitness and wellness vertical, our leading brands include Well+Good and Livestrong.com, which aim to inspire people to lead healthier lives. In the home and design vertical, Hunker is our leading brand inspiring people to improve the space around them. In the travel vertical, OnlyInYourState is a leading US-focused local attractions and review site, highlighting small businesses, hidden gems and natural wonders for an audience of motivated, experience-seekers. These brands are the leaders in our catalog of
over 55 other brands focused on specific categories or interests that we either own and operate or host and operate for our partners.
Our brands each develop a distinct voice and create content that connects with their consumers across a wide variety of platforms, devices and formats. In order to improve our engagement with consumers, we continually redesign and update our websites; refine our content library; evaluate and adjust ad unit density; and develop new ways of integrating the messages from our advertising partners. Our revenues are driven by growing the number of consumers and increasing the number of visits through improving the user and content experience, fostering genuine connections between our audience and their brands and providing engaging advertising or sponsorship opportunities to our partners.
Follow-on Public Offering of Common Stock
On December 14, 2020, we completed an underwritten registered public offering of 8,216,750 shares of our common stock, which included full exercise of the underwriter’s option to purchase additional shares of common stock, at a public offering price of $4.20 per share. We received aggregate net proceeds from the offering of $31.9 million, after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses. The net proceeds from the offering will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes.
Acquisition of OnlyInYourState
On February 1, 2019, pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement, we acquired substantially all of the assets of Only In Your State, LLC (“OnlyInYourState”), including its website that focuses on local attractions and local tourism for total consideration of $2.0 million in cash, of which $0.1 million was held back to secure post-closing indemnification obligations. In February 2020, we paid a total of $0.04 million to the sellers, net of $0.01 million related to post-closing indemnification obligations, pursuant to the Asset Purchase Agreement.
We evaluated the acquisition of OnlyInYourState under ASU 2017-01, Business Combinations: Clarifying the Definition of a Business. Based on the results of the analysis performed, we determined that substantially all of the fair value of the gross assets acquired is concentrated in a single identifiable asset or group of similar identifiable assets. As a result, we concluded that the acquisition of OnlyInYourState represents an asset acquisition and does not represent a business combination to be accounted for under ASC 805. The total purchase price of $2.0 million was allocated entirely to the trademark acquired, which has an estimated useful life of ten years.
The acquisition is included in our consolidated financial statements as of the closing date of the acquisition, which was February 1, 2019. Acquisition-related transaction costs were not material.
Asset Sale to Hearst Newspapers
On April 24, 2020, we entered into an Asset Sale and Services Agreement (the “Agreement”) with Hearst, pursuant to which we sold a library of content carried on certain websites (the “Hearst Sites”) that had been hosted by us on behalf of Hearst (the “Hearst Content”) to Hearst for $9.5 million, of which $4.0 million was paid at signing. The balance of $5.5 million was paid on August 21, 2020, upon completion of the migration of the Hearst Content to servers controlled by Hearst. In addition, the Agreement contemplates that, for a three-year initial term, we will provide certain content and web services in connection with the management of the Hearst Content, for which we will be paid certain fees for the content and web services provided and a revenue share based on the net revenue from the Hearst Sites.
Of the $9.5 million received for the sale as of December 31, 2020, we recorded a $9.3 million gain to other income, net, in the consolidated statements of operations, net of a $0.2 million reduction of goodwill within the Media Group reporting unit. Disposition-related transaction costs were not material.
For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we reported revenue of $212.1 million and $155.0 million, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, our Society6 Group revenue accounted for 65% and
48% of our total revenue, respectively, our Saatchi Art Group revenue accounted for 8% and 10% of our total revenue, respectively, and our Media Group revenue accounted for 27% and 42% of our total revenue, respectively.
The revenue generated by our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments have higher costs associated with it as compared to our Media Group segment due to variable product costs, including outsourced product manufacturing costs, artist payments, marketing costs, and shipping and handling costs. If our revenue sources shift from our Media Group segment to our Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group segments, our total costs relative to our revenue will be negatively impacted.
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since mid-March 2020, we, together with companies across the globe, have been living with and responding to the rapidly changing health and economic conditions wrought by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic (the “Pandemic”). The Pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities to virtually every aspect of our business as discussed in detail below.
|●||Impact on Portfolio of Businesses. we have seen the following developments related to the Pandemic:|
|o||Society6 Group Segment. Society6 Group has been and continues to be the beneficiary of the various shelter-at-home regulations and recommendations promulgated by international, federal, state and local governments as people working from home are looking for creative, reasonably priced items to spruce up their environments. We also anticipate that the change in purchasing behavior occasioned by the Pandemic will have an enduring impact on e-commerce after shelter-at-home has lifted, such that consumers, habituated to purchasing such items online, will continue to do so.|
|o||Saatchi Art Group Segment. The Pandemic and actions taken to mitigate its spread have caused cancellations or postponements of the live art fairs run by The Other Art Fair. We cancelled all 14 art fairs originally scheduled for 2020. In an effort to support our artists and customers and to find additional revenue streams, on April 8, 2020, we launched Online Studios, our new online fair for those artists who were selected to participate in the cancelled art fairs. Online Studios has helped mitigate the effects of the cancellations of the live art fairs. While our Saatchi Art business experienced a decline in the first quarter, which we believe was attributable to the Pandemic, in the remainder of the year, Saatchi Art saw substantial increases in the number of transactions resulting in increased revenue, which offset the impact of the cancelled live art fairs. We cannot predict whether the economic uncertainty caused by the Pandemic will cause customers to be generally more conservative with discretionary spending on luxury items and whether that will affect our Saatchi Art Group business.|
|o||Media Group Segment. The overall economic climate attributable to the Pandemic had initially brought a reduction in revenues per visit as many advertisers were cancelling or delaying ad buys while assessing the ongoing impacts of the Pandemic on their businesses. While we continue to believe that our Media Group segment will experience volatility given the uncertain economic times brought on by the Pandemic, we have seen recovery from the pullback in advertisers and improving trends in direct advertising sales and improvement in revenues per visit.|
|●||Supply Chain. Society6 Group is the only business in our portfolio that is exposed to potential supply chain risk. Society6 Group relies on a variety of manufacturing facilities for the production of its goods and it sources its raw materials from a variety of third parties. In 2020, we have seen limited supply chain disruptions as our manufacturers have taken various actions to ensure that they can continue to produce our goods. We do not, however, know if our manufacturers will be able to continue to ensure the production of our goods. We worked closely with our key vendors to ensure that they have staffing plans in place to meet our anticipated needs and we have also taken steps aimed at ensuring redundancy. We|
|have also increased staffing and added additional equipment at our own manufacturing facility in Colorado.|
|●||Employees. Since March 12, 2020 virtually all of our employees throughout all of our domestic and international offices have been working remotely. Our philosophy towards work has always favored flexible work environments so while this transition was significant, we already had many of the tools in place necessary to create effective working conditions outside of the office. With the use of Zoom, Slack and other tools we have not seen an appreciable loss of productivity resulting from our entire employee base working remotely. Further on March 20, 2020 we temporarily closed our manufacturing facility outside of Denver, furloughing ten employees. Subsequently, we reopened the facility on April 21, 2020 and all ten employees returned to work on or before April 27, 2020. Since then, we have had no additional temporary closures or furloughs.|
|●||Cost Reduction Initiatives. We took a variety of steps to reduce costs, including cuts in compensation for our executive team, our direct workforce and our Board of Directors and deferral of 2019 annual cash bonuses by the executive team. Given the performance of our businesses, we restored the salaries of our executive team, and our direct workforce to their pre-temporary salary reduction levels, effective with the payroll payable on June 30, 2020, and paid 2019 annual cash bonuses to the executive team. We also determined to recommence cash retainer compensation for our outside directors under our Outside Director Compensation Program, effective as of July 1, 2020. By January 1, 2021, all of these compensation reductions had been restored. We continue to focus on expense management through limitations on hiring, promotions and raises. We also continue to assess and implement cost saving opportunities in such areas as marketing, technology, and facilities.|
|o||NYSE Compliance. On April 10, 2020, the NYSE gave us notice that we are no longer in compliance with the NYSE continued listing standards due to the fact that our average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30 trading-day period was less than $50 million and, at the same time, our stockholders’ equity was less than $50 million. Given that prior to the Pandemic, our market capitalization had not been below $50 million, we believe that the Pandemic, at least in part, contributed to the drop in market capitalization. On July 9, 2020, the NYSE provided notice to us that it accepted our plan to regain compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing standards. On December 10, 2020, we received written notice from the NYSE stating that we regained compliance with the NYSE’s minimum market capitalization and shareholders’ equity requirements for the past two quarters and we are now considered in compliance with the NYSE quantitative continued listing standards as set forth in Section 8 of the NYSE Company Manual. Further, as a result, the below compliance (“.BC”) indicator will no longer be transmitted. We are subject to a standard 12-month follow-up period within which we will be reviewed to ensure that we do not fall below any of the NYSE’s continued listing standards.|
|o||Paycheck Protection Program Loan. On April 20, 2020, we entered into a Promissory Note (the “Promissory Note”) with Silicon Valley Bank and Silicon Valley Bank agreed to make available to the Company the PPP Loan in the amount of $7.1 million under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program enabled by the CARES Act. We used the proceeds to support payroll costs, rent and utilities in accordance with the relevant terms and conditions of the CARES Act. Our application seeking forgiveness of the PPP Loan has been submitted to the SBA for review.|
Key Business Metrics
We regularly review a number of business metrics, including the following key metrics, to evaluate our business, measure the performance of our business model, identify trends impacting our business, determine resource allocations, formulate financial projections and make strategic business decisions. Measures that we believe are the primary indicators
of our performance are described below. We believe that the number of transactions, gross transaction value, number of visits and revenue per visit are currently the key metrics for understanding our results of operations.
Society6 Group Metrics
|●||Society6 Group Number of transactions: We define Society6 Group transactions as the total number of Society6 Group transactions successfully completed by a customer during the applicable period.|
|●||Society6 Group Gross transaction value: We define Society6 Group gross transaction value as the total dollar value of Society6 Group transactions. Society6 Group gross transaction value is the total amount paid by the customer for a Society6 Group product, which consists of the following elements: the product price, inclusive of the commission payable to the artist, shipping charges, and sales taxes, less any promotional discounts. Gross transaction value does not reflect any subsequent cancellations, refunds or credits and does not represent revenue earned by the Company.|
Saatchi Art Group Metrics
|●||Saatchi Art Group Number of transactions: We define Saatchi Art Group transactions as the total number of Saatchi Art Group transactions successfully completed by a customer during the applicable period, excluding certain transactions generated by Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, which include sales of stand space to artists at fairs, sponsorship fees and ticket sales.|
|●||Saatchi Art Group Gross transaction value: We define Saatchi Art Group gross transaction value as the total dollar value of Saatchi Art Group transactions, excluding the revenue from certain transactions generated by Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, which include sales of stand space to artists at fairs, sponsorship fees and ticket sales. Saatchi Art Group gross transaction value is the total amount paid by the customer for a Saatchi Art Group product, which consists of the following elements: the product price, inclusive of the commission payable to the artist, shipping charges, and sales taxes, less any promotional discounts. Gross transaction value does not reflect any subsequent cancellations, refunds or credits and does not represent revenue earned by the Company.|
|●||Number of art fairs: We define the number of art fairs as in-person art fairs hosted by The Other Art Fair.|
Media Group Metrics
|●||Visits per Google Analytics: Visits per Google Analytics is defined as the total number of times users access our content across (a) one of our owned and operated properties and/or (b) one of our customers’ properties, to the extent that the visited customer web pages are hosted by our content services. In each case, breaks of access of at least 30 minutes constitute a unique visit. Additionally, a visit is also considered to have ended at midnight or if a user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.|
|●||Revenue per visit (“RPV”): We define RPV as Media Group revenue per one thousand visits.|
The following table sets forth our key business metrics for the periods presented:
Year ended December 31,
Society6 Group Metrics(1):
Society6 Group Number of Transactions
Society6 Group Gross Transaction Value (in thousands)
Saatchi Art Group Metrics(1)(2):
Saatchi Art Group Number of Transactions
Saatchi Art Group Gross Transaction Value (in thousands)
Number of Art Fairs
Media Group Metrics(1)(3):
Visits per Google Analytics (in thousands)
Revenue per Visit (RPV)
Pro forma Visits per Google Analytics (in thousands)(4)
Pro forma Revenue per Visit (RPV)(4)
|(1)||For a discussion of these period-to-period changes in the number of transactions, gross transaction value, number of visits and RPV, and how they impacted our financial results, see “Results of Operations” below.|
|(2)||Saatchi Art Group Metrics excludes transactions and the associated revenue generated by Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, which include sales of stand space to artists at art fairs, sponsorship fees and ticket sales.|
|(3)||Media Group Metrics include visits and revenue generated by OnlyInYourState subsequent to its acquisition in February 2019. From April 25, 2020 onwards, Media Group Metrics exclude visits generated by certain domains no longer under our control as a result of the asset sale entered into with Hearst Newspapers, a division of Hearst Communications, Inc. (“Hearst”) on April 24, 2020 (the “Hearst Transaction”), as more fully described in Note 16 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.|
|(4)||Pro forma Visits and Pro forma Revenue per Visit exclude visits generated by certain domains no longer under our control as a result of the Hearst Transaction. The number of visits is derived from Google Analytics.|
Basis of Presentation
Our revenue is primarily derived from products and services sold through our home, art and design marketplaces and from sales of advertising. Revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.
Our contracts with customers may include multiple performance obligations. For such arrangements, we allocate the transaction price to each performance obligation based on the estimated standalone selling price of the promised good or service. We allocate any arrangement fee or other incentive or promotional offers to each of the elements based on their relative selling prices.
Our revenue is principally derived from the following products and services:
For Society6 Group and Saatchi Art Group, we recognize product revenue from sales of products when we transfer control of promised goods to our customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods. In determining the amount of consideration we expect to be entitled to, we take into account sales allowances, estimated returns based on historical experience and any incentive offers provided to customers to encourage purchases, including percentage discounts off current purchases, free shipping and other promotional offers. Because we are the principal in a transaction and obtain control of the goods before they are transferred to the customer, we record product revenue at the gross amount. Value-added taxes (“VAT”), sales tax and
other taxes are not included in product revenue because we are a pass-through conduit for collecting and remitting any such taxes.
Product revenue includes e-commerce, wholesale, and shipping revenue.
Saatchi Art Group
Product revenue includes e-commerce and shipping revenue for limited and open edition prints.
For Media Group, product revenue includes revenue from products sold on our online media properties.
Service revenue includes advertising revenue generated from advertisements displayed on our website.
Saatchi Art Group
Service revenue includes revenue from commissions we receive from facilitating the sale of original art by artists to customers through Saatchi Art. We also generate Saatchi Art Group service revenue from various sources relating to Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, including commissions from the sale of original art, fees paid by artists for stands at fairs and through sponsorship opportunities with third-party brands and advertisers. We recognize fair-related service revenue upon completion of each fair. We recognize service revenue arising from the sale of original art net of amounts paid to the artist because we are not the principal in the transaction and we do not obtain control over the original art. Revenue is recognized when we transfer control of the promised service, which is after the original art has been delivered and the return period has expired. We provide incentive offers to Saatchi Art customers to encourage purchases, including percentage discounts off current purchases, free shipping and other promotional offers. VAT, sales tax and other taxes are not included in service revenue because we are a pass-through conduit for collecting and remitting any such taxes.
Advertising Revenue. We generate Media Group service revenue primarily from advertisements displayed on our online media properties and on certain webpages of our partners’ media properties that are hosted by our content services. Articles, videos and other forms of content generate advertising revenue from a diverse mix of advertising methods including display advertisements, where revenue is dependent upon the number of advertising impressions delivered; performance-based cost-per-click advertising, in which an advertiser pays only when a visitor clicks on an advertisement; sponsored content; or advertising links. Performance obligations pursuant to our advertising revenue arrangements typically include a minimum number of impressions or the satisfaction of other performance criteria. Revenue from performance-based arrangements is recognized as the related performance criteria are met. We assess whether performance criteria have been met based on a reconciliation of the performance criteria. The reconciliation of the performance criteria generally includes a comparison of third-party performance data to the contractual performance obligation and to internal or partner-performance data in circumstances where that data is available.
Where we enter into revenue-sharing arrangements with our partners, such as those relating to our advertiser network, we report revenue on a gross or net basis depending on whether we are considered the principal in the transaction. In addition, we consider which party controls the service, including which party is primarily responsible for fulfilling the promise to provide the service. We also consider which party has the latitude to establish the sales prices to advertisers. When we are considered the principal, we report the underlying revenue on a gross basis in our consolidated statements of operations, and record these revenue-sharing payments to our partners in service costs.
Content Sales and Licensing Revenue. We generate revenue from the sale or license of media content, including the creation and distribution of content for third-party brands and publishers. Revenue from the sale or perpetual license of media content is recognized when the control of content is transferred or when the right to use is transferred and the contractual performance obligations have been fulfilled. Revenue from the non-perpetual license of media content is recognized over the period of the license as the right to access content is delivered or when other related performance criteria are fulfilled. In circumstances where we distribute our content on third-party properties and the customer acts as the principal, we recognize revenue on a net basis.
Product costs consist of product manufacturing costs, including both in-house and contracted third-party manufacturing costs, artist payments, personnel costs and credit card and other transaction processing fees.
Service costs consist of payments relating to our internet connection and co-location charges and other platform operating expenses, including depreciation of the systems and hardware used to build and operate our content creation and distribution platform; expenses related to creating, rewriting, or auditing certain content units; and personnel costs related to in-house editorial, customer service and information technology. Service costs also include payments to our partners pursuant to revenue-sharing arrangements where we are the principal. In addition, service costs include expenses related to art fairs hosted by Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair, such as venue-related costs and fair personnel costs.
Shipping and Handling
Shipping and handling costs charged to customers are recorded in service revenue or product revenue, as applicable. Associated costs are recorded in service costs or product costs.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of sales and marketing personnel costs, sales support, public relations, advertising, marketing and general promotional expenditures. Fluctuations in our sales and marketing expenses are generally the result of our efforts to drive growth in our product and service offerings.
Product development expenses consist primarily of expenses incurred in our software engineering, product development and web design activities and related personnel costs. Fluctuations in our product development expenses are generally the result of hiring personnel to support and develop our platforms, including the costs to improve our owned and operated media properties and related mobile applications, as well as the costs to develop future product and service offerings.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of personnel costs from our corporate executive, legal, finance, human resources and information technology organizations and facilities-related expenditures, as well as third-party professional service fees and insurance. Professional service fees are largely comprised of outside legal, audit and information technology consulting services.
Amortization of Intangible Assets
We capitalize certain costs (i) allocated to the purchase price of certain identifiable intangible assets acquired in connection with business combinations and (ii) incurred to develop media content that is determined to have a probable economic benefit. We amortize these costs on a straight-line basis over the related expected useful lives of these assets.
We determine the appropriate useful life of intangible assets by performing an analysis of expected cash flows based on our historical experience of intangible assets of similar quality and value. We expect total amortization expense to decrease in the near term due to assets completing their useful lives. Amortization as a percentage of revenue will depend upon a variety of factors, such as the amounts and mix of our investments in content and identifiable intangible assets acquired in business combinations.
We test goodwill for impairment as of October 1 of each year unless there are interim indicators that suggest that it is more likely than not that goodwill may be impaired. Goodwill is tested at the reporting unit level and as of December 31, 2020, we have three reporting units: Society6 Group, Saatchi Art Group, and Media Group. We did not record any goodwill impairment charges for the year ended December 31, 2020. We may be required to record impairment charges on our remaining goodwill in future periods.
Included in operating expenses are expenses associated with stock-based compensation, which are allocated and included in service costs, sales and marketing, product development and general and administrative expenses. Stock-based compensation expense is largely comprised of costs associated with stock options and restricted stock units granted to employees, directors and non-employees, and expenses relating to our Employee Stock Purchase Plan (the “ESPP”). We record the fair value of these equity-based awards and expenses at their cost ratably over related vesting periods.
Interest Income (Expense), Net
Interest income consists primarily of interest earned on cash balances and money market deposits, which are included in cash and cash equivalents. Interest expense consists of interest on outstanding debt and amortization of debt issuance costs associated with our credit facility.
Other Income (Expense), Net
Other income (expense), net consists primarily of transaction gains and losses on foreign currency-denominated assets and liabilities and gains or losses on sales of businesses. We expect that these gains and losses will vary depending upon movements in underlying currency exchange rates and whether we dispose of any businesses.
Income Tax Expense
Since our inception, we have been subject to income taxes principally in the United States and certain other countries where we have or had a legal presence, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Argentina. We may in the future become subject to taxation in additional countries based on the foreign statutory rates in those countries and our effective tax rate could fluctuate accordingly.
Income taxes are computed using the asset and liability method, under which deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the difference between the financial statement and tax bases of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to affect taxable income. Valuation allowances are established when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized.
We currently believe that based on the available information, it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets will not be realized, and accordingly we have taken a full valuation allowance against all of our United States federal and state and certain foreign deferred tax assets. Federal and state laws impose substantial restrictions on the utilization of net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards in the event of an “ownership change,” as defined in Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Currently, we do not expect the utilization of our net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards in the near term to be materially affected as no significant limitations are expected to be placed on these carryforwards as a result of our previous ownership changes. However, if all or a portion of our net operating loss
carryforwards are subject to limitation because we experience an ownership change, our future cash flows could be adversely impacted due to increased tax liability.
Results of Operations
The following tables set forth our results of operations for the periods presented (in thousands). The period-to-period comparison of financial results is not necessarily indicative of future results.
Year ended December 31,
Product costs (exclusive of amortization of intangible assets shown separately below)(1)
Service costs (exclusive of amortization of intangible assets shown separately below)(1)(2)
Sales and marketing(1)(2)
General and administrative(1)(2)
Amortization of intangible assets
Total operating expenses
Loss from operations
Other income, net
Loss before income taxes
Income tax (expense)
(1) Depreciation expense included in the above line items:
Sales and marketing
General and administrative
(2) Stock-based compensation included in the above line items:
Sales and marketing
General and administrative
Total stock-based compensation
As a percentage of revenue:
Year ended December 31,
Product costs (exclusive of amortization of intangible assets shown separately below)
Service costs (exclusive of amortization of intangible assets shown separately below)
Sales and marketing
General and administrative
Amortization of intangible assets
Total operating expenses
Loss from operations
Other income, net
Loss before income taxes
Income tax expense
Segment results (in thousands):
Year ended December 31,
Saatchi Art Group
Segment Operating Expenses:
Saatchi Art Group(1)
Strategic shared services and corporate overhead(2)(3)
Consolidated operating expenses
Segment Operating Contribution:
Saatchi Art Group(4)
Strategic shared services and corporate overhead(2)(3)
Acquisition, disposition and realignment costs(5)
|(1)||Segment operating expenses reflects operating expenses that are directly attributable to the operating segment, not including corporate and unallocated expenses, and also excluding the following: (a) depreciation expense; (b) amortization of|
|intangible assets; (c) share-based compensation expense; (d) interest and other income (expense); (e) income taxes; and (f) contingent payments to certain key employees/equity holders of acquired businesses.|
|(2)||Strategic shared services include shared operating expenses that are not directly attributable to the operating segments, including: network operations center, marketing, business development, product development, creative, financial systems, quality assurance, software engineering, and information systems. Corporate overhead includes general and administrative support functions that are not directly attributable to the operating segments, including: executive, accounting, finance, human resources, legal, and facilities. Strategic shared services and corporate overhead excludes the following: (a) depreciation expense; (b) amortization of intangible assets; (c) share-based compensation expense; (d) interest and other income (expenses); and (e) income taxes.|
|(3)||Strategic shared services and corporate overhead include $7.8 million and $8.0 million in strategic shared services for the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and $19.3 million and $22.0 million in corporate overhead for the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.|
|(4)||Segment operating contribution reflects segment revenue less segment operating expenses. Operating contribution has certain limitations in that it does not take into account the impact to the statement of operations of certain expenses and is not directly comparable to similar measures used by other companies.|
|(5)||Represents such items, when applicable, as (a) legal, accounting and other professional service fees directly attributable to acquisition, disposition or corporate realignment activities, (b) employee severance, and (c) other payments attributable to acquisition, disposition or corporate realignment activities, excluding contingent payments to certain key employees/equity holders of acquired businesses.|
|(6)||Adjusted EBITDA reflects net loss excluding interest (income) expense, income tax expense, and certain other non-cash or non-recurring items impacting net loss from time to time, principally comprised of depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation, contingent payments to certain key employees/equity holders of acquired businesses and other payments attributable to acquisition, disposition or corporate realignment activities. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we had $1.5 million in cost savings, which included temporary salary cuts of our executive team and salaried direct workforce (whose salaries were reinstated effective with payroll paid on June 30, 2020) and compensation cuts and deferrals of compensation of our independent directors (whose cash retainer compensation was reinstated, effective July 1, 2020), neither of which is expected to reoccur.|
See Note 17 of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15, “Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” above for more information and reconciliation of segment results to consolidated GAAP operating income (loss).
Society6 Group Revenue
Society6 Group revenue increased by $64.1 million, or 87%, to $138.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to $73.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. The increase in revenue was primarily driven by a 95% increase in direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) sales, with a 110% increase domestically and a 33% increase internationally, and a 33% increase in business-to-business (“B2B”) sales. For the year ended December 31, 2020, Society6 Group gross transaction value was $158.8 million as compared to $83.9 million in the prior year period, reflecting an increase of 89%. The increase in gross transaction value was primarily driven by a 98% increase in DTC gross transaction value, with a 113% increase domestically and a 35% increase internationally, a 35% increase in B2B gross transaction value, an 85% increase in the number of transactions and a 3% increase in average order value. The number of transactions increased 85% to 2.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to 1.2 million in the same period in 2019. The increase was primarily driven by an 84% increase in DTC transactions, with a 98% increase domestically and a 21% increase internationally, and an 83% increase in B2B transactions.
Saatchi Art Group Revenue
Saatchi Art Group revenue increased by $1.3 million, or 8%, to $17.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to $15.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. The increase in Saatchi Art Group revenue was primarily driven by a 53% increase in Saatchi Art revenue, partially offset by a 95% decrease in The Other Art Fair revenue. Due to the Pandemic, no live art fairs occurred for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to 1