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Consumer rewards company Ibotta shops for bargains

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ibotta, a Denver-based provider of cash-back rewards programs, has set its eyes on acquisitions "to complement and augment" the network it is building, CEO Bryan Leach tells Axios.

Why it matters: As Ibotta preps its exit strategy, the CEO sees a chance to strengthen the company by buying startups in need of cash.

Details: The company's capital structure includes a line of credit and receivables the company can borrow against, Leach says.

  • Acquisitions could either be in the U.S. or abroad, which is where Ibotta is eyeing its next big growth phase, Leach says.
  • He cited Austin, Texas-based OctoShop, a Chrome browser extension that it acquired last December in a multimillion-dollar deal, as an example of the kind of businesses Ibotta is interested in.

By the numbers: Though Leach declined to comment on the company's revenue, he told AdExchanger that Ibotta has 120 million customers.

  • Those customers then spend about $15 billion a year using the network, according to the Dallas Morning News article.
  • As of last year, Ibotta had provided $900 million in rewards to its customers via its 1,500 retail partners, according to Inc. magazine, which cited the company as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S.
  • Ibotta employs 853 people as of September, according to PitchBook.

Yes, and: The rewards program provider has raised nearly $246 million to date, including a $150 million Series D in 2019 that valued the business at $1 billion, conferring unicorn status, also according to PitchBook.

Of note: Last year, Ibotta partnered with Walmart to launch a new digital offers program.

The intrigue: As customer acquisition becomes both more difficult and expensive, brands are likely to turn to platforms like Ibotta that use incentives to lure in shoppers.

The big picture: Further out, Ibotta has positioned itself well for an exit, Leach says, with an IPO, or a sale to either a PE firm as part of a roll-up strategy or a strategic acquirer as options.

  • The company has discussed each option, he says, though he is focused on having the company IPO-ready, as that's something he can control.
  • Whether or not it's an IPO, Leach agreed that having the public market open for offerings helps with price discovery.

Yes, but: The executive did point to Red Ventures as a business that has successfully provided its investors with liquidity without going public, however.

  • The one option Leach definitively ruled out at this stage is a SPAC.
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