Chicken Soup for the Soul stock debuts on Nasdaq after crowdsourced IPO

Key Points
  • Chicken Soup for Soul Entertainment will begin trading Friday on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "CSSE."
  • Ashton Kutcher is on board as an executive producer and collaborator.
  • The producer and distributor is the first crowdsourced IPO to list on the Nasdaq global market.
Ashton Kutcher
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A feel-good video producer and distributor will begin trading its shares on the Nasdaq global market Friday after raising $30 million in a crowdsourced initial public offering.

With actor Ashton Kutcher on board as an executive producer and collaborator, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment will list under the ticker symbol CSSE. The company sold 2.5 million shares of class A common stock at $12 per share.

The offering is under a relatively recent rule allowing small companies looking to raise $3 million to $30 million the chance to sell shares to anyone regardless of their income or assets. Before that rule change, which came under the 2012 JOBS Act, only wealthy, "qualified" investors could take stakes in such ventures.

It is the largest IPO so far under this rule, Nasdaq said.

"We upsized the offering repeatedly until we reached the $30 million maximum," CEO William Rouhana said in a statement.

Scott W. Seaton, vice chairman and chief strategy officer of CSS Entertainment, said in a press release that the JOBS Act "allowed us to marry 'the crowd' with institutional and other traditional Wall Street investors."

Chicken Soup for the Soul is best known for its publishing division. The book series by that name has sold more than half a billion copies since the company's founding in 1993.

"This division is to take the essence of our brand and turn it into video stories. We're known for our books, and our stories are about positive, inspirational items," Rouhana told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

In September, CSS Entertainment entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with A Plus, a digital media company founded and chaired by Kutcher, according to the company's SEC filing. CSS Entertainment then launched its direct-to-consumer network in March. Kutcher will produce two new television series "relating to the positive content" of A Plus and CSS Entertainment.

CSS Entertainment acquired a controlling interested in A Plus in 2016. Kutcher retains a 23 percent stake in A Plus and will work closely with CSS Entertainment's management.