Going public is "certainly an option" for Hootsuite, but the social media management firm needs to deliver more consistent growth before it can plan an IPO, the company's chief executive said. 

The Vancouver-based company is looking to take advantage of the growing shift to online under the watch of veteran U.S. tech executive Tom Keiser following founder and former CEO Ryan Holmes's departure in November 2019. And while Hootsuite has been long rumoured to tap public markets, Keiser said the company's business needs to grow at a rate of 25 per cent each quarter before revisiting any plans to go public. 

"We want to get our growth metrics into a business where we can control our destiny and then we can make decisions around where we want to take the business and if we want to take it public," Keiser said. 

One of the first steps in possibly making that happen is through an acquisition of Sparkcentral, an automated messaging platform that Keiser said will provide businesses with another tool to help drive online sales. 

The deal, announced Wednesday, will help businesses that subscribe to Hootsuite's social media manager connect to consumers with a "chatbot" that can be used on Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and other messaging platforms. 

Sparkcentral already works with companies such as Air Canada and Slack, and counts customers in more than 20 countries.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. 

Keiser said Hootsuite had looked at potentially acquiring Sparkcentral a few times, but decided to pull the trigger on the deal after seeing how people were flocking online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the acquisition will help marketers take something that was previously done manually and can now be automated in real-time on its software platform. 

"We've had capabilities around social customer care and workflow inside the company, but it's not been a priority," Keiser said. "Our urgency around really moving forward in this space was high."