The public Rover recently repaid a $ 8 million PPP loan that helped the pet care company weather the pandemic.

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Posters inside the Rover headquarters in Seattle. (Photo file GeekWire / Kurt Schlosser)

Not long ago, Rover was on a very short leash.

In March 2020, as the realities of the pandemic became clear, the end of global travel and personal work significantly reduced demand for the Seattle-based company’s marketplace that connects pet owners with people who can adopt, walk or care for their pets. pets when in the office or traveling.

Rover CEO Aaron Easterly. (ATV photo)

Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, Rover made what CEO Aaron Easterly called “harrowing,” laying off about 41% of its employees, or nearly 200 people. as part of a wider set of acronyms

Like many other companies, Rover also applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan for $ 8.1 million in April 2020.

The big advantage of these loans, besides the low interest rate, is that they are forgivable if the business spends money in accordance with SBA guidelines. At the national level about 80% of PPP loans were fully or partially written off, according to the latest data.

Rover chose a different path. Company disclosed in regulatory documents on Thursday afternoon that he recently repaid a PPP loan, as well as interest and fees, returning a total of $ 8.2 million.

The move reflects how much has changed over the past 18 months. For one thing increase in the number of adoptions of pets and increased costs for pets sped up the Rover business.

But more to the point, Rover this week became the newest public company in the Seattle region through a merger with a publicly traded Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), resulting in net revenue of US $ 240 million.

“As a business closely tied to the travel industry, we were able to use these resources to support the business in the midst of the pandemic,” Rover spokesman Dave Rosenbaum said via email in response to a GeekWire inquiry. “Now that our business has returned to normal, we have paid off the loan.”

Rover has returned 320 employees worldwide, after cutting to 275 last year.

PPP loans to public companies have been the subject of controversy in the past year.

The SBA guidelines discouraged companies with “access to other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their current operations” and stated that “it is unlikely that a public company with significant market value and access to capital markets” will be able to truthfully claim that she needed money to survive.

However, there is a gray area when it comes to companies that went public, were acquired or raised large amounts of funding after receiving PPP loans.

In April 2020, the Seattle-based Porch Group received a $ 8.1 million PPP loan. went public in December as a result of the merger of its own company, SPAC., raising $ 322 million.

In the same month, Porch applied for a loan forgiveness. its latest quarterly filing with the SEC

However, Porch’s May 19 filing warned that there was “no guarantee” that the company would be able to get forgiven for the PPP loan. Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman declined to comment this week due to a quiet period ahead of the company’s August 16 report.

One of the long-standing public companies, Seattle-based RealNetworks, said it in his quarterly filing this week that in June he received full pardon for a loan of US $ 2.9 million. The company was able to use PPP funds to bring back some of the workers laid off at the time.

“We follow the rules very strictly,” said RealNetworks CEO Rob Glazer. told GeekWire last year… “We care a lot about this and feel that this program makes sense to us.”

Like Rover, some companies whose circumstances have changed have decided to repay their PPP loans.

Bardy Diagnostics, a Seattle-based medical device manufacturer that received a $ 2.6 million PPP loan, says it will repay the loan in full, plus interest due to its expected closure on Friday. his acquisition of Hillrom for $ 375 millionwhich follows legal dispute between companies regarding an acquisition

Seattle-based marketing technology startup Amperity, which just raised additional investment of USD 100 million who valued the company at more than $ 1 billion, last year fully repaid a $ 3.8 million PPP loan.

Editor’s note: GeekWire applied for and received two PPP loans worth $ 262,820 each. One of these loans was fully forgiven.



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