SurveyMonkey, a US-based provider of online questionnaires, has seen its early investors sell $444m at a valuation of $1.35bn to a consortium including search engine provider Google. David Goldberg, chief executive of SurveyMonkey, and hedge fund Tiger Global Management co-led the transaction, which also included venture capital firms Iconiq Capital (which manages money on behalf of social network Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg), Social+Capital Partnership (founded by ex-Facebook vice-president Chamath Palihapitiya) and Laurel Crown Partners (investment arm of the Louis Berkman Investment Company), as well as Google. A further $350m is being raised in debt from a syndicate including JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and SunTrust Bank. The proceeds from the debt will also be used to buy shares from employees and shareholders as well as retire SurveyMonkey’s existing debt. Goldberg said he had increased his stake in the company after the latest recapitalization and added: “This transaction affords us all of the capital benefits of a public offering without the costs and distractions of an IPO and the demands of operating as a public company.” David Lawee, vice-president of corporate development of Google, will also join SurveyMonkey’s board as an observer. Prior investors have included financial investors Bain Capital Ventures and Spectrum Equity Investors. In 2009, Spectrum, which said it remained a shareholder, acquired the company and appointed Goldberg as CEO. At the time, SurveyMonkey had 2.5 million free users but now has 14 million free users, 360,000 paid customers and 65 million monthly visitors to its website. SurveyMonkey’s growth has been partly fuelled by acquiring market research provider MarketTools in December 2011 in a deal part-funded by private equity firm TPG Capital so it could take a minority stake in SurveyMonkey. In April that year, SurveyMonkey bought Infinity Box, maker of Wufoo online forms, and in January took a 49.9% stake in Clicktools, which provides surveys on Salesforce’s AppExchange. A year earlier SurveyMonkey made a $100m debt recapitalisation and also bought survey company Precision Polling.

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