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LOV > SEC Filings for LOV > Form 10-K on 14-Mar-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for SPARK NETWORKS INC



Annual Report


The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes that are included in this report.

Some of the statements contained in this "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and elsewhere in this report are forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than historical facts contained in this report, including statements regarding our future financial position, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "estimates," "may," "will," "continue," "should," "plan," "predict," "potential" and other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, which are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions described in the "Risk Factors" section and elsewhere in this report.


The common stock of Spark Networks, Inc., a Delaware corporation, is traded on the NYSE MKT. On December 31, 2010, Spark Networks Limited ("SNUK") distributed its shareholdings in each of HurryDate, LLC; MingleMatch, Inc.; Kizmeet, Inc.; SN Holdco, LLC; SN Events, Inc.; Reseaux Spark Canada Ltd. and Spark SocialNet, Inc. by transferring its shares in those companies to Spark Networks, Inc. Spark Networks, Inc. subsequently transferred all of its shares in the same companies to LOV USA, LLC, a newly formed and wholly owned subsidiary of Spark Networks, Inc. SNUK continues to hold all of the shares of Spark Networks (Israel) Limited, and JDate Limited. In addition, SNUK now holds all of the shares of Spark Networks USA, LLC, a newly formed subsidiary into which SNUK has transferred all of its United States based assets.

Membership to the Company's online services, which includes the posting of a personal profile and photos, and access to its database of profiles, is free. The Company typically charges a subscription fee for varying subscription lengths (typically, one, three, six and twelve months) to members, allowing them to initiate communication with other members and subscribers using the Company's onsite communication tools, including anonymous email, Instant Messenger, chat rooms and message boards. For most of the Company's services, two-way communications through the Company's email platform can only take place between paying subscribers.

For the year ended December 31, 2013, we had 297,696 average paying subscribers, representing an increase of 14.8% from the year ended December 31, 2012. Paying subscribers are defined as individuals who have paid a monthly fee for access to communication and Web site features beyond those provided to our non-paying members. Average paying subscribers for each month are calculated as the sum of the paying subscribers at the beginning and end of the month, divided by two. Average paying subscribers for periods longer than one month are calculated as the sum of the average paying subscribers for each month, divided by the number of months in such period.

Our key Web sites include, which primarily targets Christian singles in the United States and, which primarily targets Jewish singles in the United States. Our subscription fees have traditionally been charged on a monthly basis, with discounts for longer-term subscriptions.

We have grown both internally and through acquisitions of entities, and selected assets of entities, offering online personals services and related businesses. Through our business acquisitions, we have expanded into new markets, leveraged and enhanced our existing brands to improve our position within new markets, and gained valuable intellectual property.

Our ability to compete effectively will depend on the timely introduction and performance of our future Web sites, services and features, the ability to address the needs of our members and paying subscribers and the ability to respond to Web sites, services and features introduced by competitors. To address this challenge, we have invested and will continue to invest in existing personnel resources, namely product managers, application developers and systems engineers, in order to enhance our existing services and introduce new services, which may include new Web sites as well as new features and functions designed to increase the probability of communication among our members and paying subscribers and to enhance their online personals experiences. We believe we have sufficient cash resources on hand to accomplish the enhancements currently contemplated.

Critical Accounting Policies, Estimates and Assumptions

Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make certain estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. On an on-going basis, we evaluate our estimates, including those related to revenue recognition, cost of revenue, prepaid advertising, Web site and software development costs, goodwill, intangible and other long-lived assets, accounting for business combinations, legal contingencies, income taxes and stock-based compensation. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

Management has discussed the development and selection of our critical accounting policies, estimates and assumptions with our board of directors and the board has reviewed these disclosures. Past estimates have been in line with actual results.

We believe the following critical accounting policies reflect the more significant judgments and estimates we used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements:

Revenue Recognition and Deferred Revenue

Substantially all of our revenue is derived from subscription fees. Revenue is presented net of credits and credit card chargebacks. We recognize revenue in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. Revenue recognition occurs ratably over the subscription period, beginning when there is persuasive evidence of an arrangement, delivery has occurred (access has been granted), the fees are fixed or determinable, and collection is reasonably assured. Paying subscribers primarily pay in advance using a credit card and, subject to certain conditions identified in our terms and conditions, all purchases are final and nonrefundable. Subscription fees collected in advance are deferred and recognized as revenue, using the straight-line method, over the term of the subscription. We reserve for potential credit card chargebacks based on our historical chargeback experience.

We also earn a small amount of revenue from advertising sales and offline events. We record advertising revenue as it is delivered and included it in the total revenue of each segment that generates advertising sales. Revenue and the related expenses associated with offline events are recognized at the conclusion of each event.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue consists primarily of direct marketing costs, compensation and other employee-related costs (including stock-based compensation) for personnel dedicated to maintaining our data centers, data center expenses and credit card fees. We incur substantial advertising expenses in order to generate traffic to our Web sites. These advertising costs consist of television and online advertising, including affiliate and co-brand arrangements, and are directly attributable to the revenue we receive from our subscribers. We have entered into numerous affiliate arrangements, under which our affiliates advertise or promote our Web site, and earn a fee whenever visitors click through the affiliate's advertisement to one of our Web sites and register or subscribe, on our Web site. Some of our affiliates may also be affiliates for our competitors. Under our co-branded arrangements, our co-brand partners may operate their own separate Web sites where visitors can register and subscribe to our Web sites. Affiliate deals, co-brand deals and online advertising arrangements may fall in the categories of CPS, CPA, CPC, or CPM, as discussed below.

Our advertising expenses are recognized based on the terms of each individual contract. The majority of our advertising expenses are based on five pricing models:

- Cost per subscription (CPS) where we pay an online advertising provider a fee based upon the number of new paying subscribers it generates;

- Cost per acquisition (CPA) where we pay an online advertising provider a fee based on the number of new member registrations it generates;

- Cost per click (CPC) where we pay an online advertising provider a fee based on the number of clicks to our Web sites it generates;

- Cost per thousand for banner advertising (CPM) where we pay an online advertising provider a fee based on the number of times it displays our advertisements; and

- Offline where we pay television and radio stations for advertising placement on a cost per spot basis, print advertisers on a cost per page basis and out-of-home advertisers on a fixed placement basis.

We estimate, in certain circumstances, the total clicks or impressions delivered by our vendors in order to determine amounts due under these contracts.

Prepaid Advertising Expenses

In certain circumstances, we pay in advance for online and offline advertising, and expense the prepaid amounts as cost of revenue over the contract periods as the vendor delivers on its commitment. We evaluate the realization of prepaid amounts at each reporting period and expense prepaid amounts if the vendor is unable to deliver on its commitment and is not willing or able to repay the undelivered prepaid amounts.

Web Site and Software Development Costs

We capitalize costs related to developing or obtaining internal-use software. Capitalization of costs begins after the preliminary project stage has been completed. Web site and software development costs are expensed as incurred or capitalized into property and equipment. Costs incurred in the planning and post-implementation stages of an internal use software project are expensed as incurred while direct costs associated with the development phase are capitalized and amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives. Costs associated with minor enhancements and maintenance for a Web site are included in expenses in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations.

Valuation of Goodwill, Identified Intangibles and Other Long-lived Assets

We test goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment at least annually, or more frequently when circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable and test property, plant and equipment and other intangible assets for impairment whenever changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. Our operating segments represent the reporting units to which we assign goodwill. We aggregate our indefinite-lived intangible assets, primarily consisting of domain names, into one unit of account for each reporting unit. Factors we consider important and which could trigger an impairment review include the following:

- a significant decline in actual projected revenue;

- a significant decline in the market value of our common stock;

- a significant decline in performance of certain acquired companies relative to our original projections;

- an excess of our net book value over our market value;

- a significant decline in our operating results relative to our operating forecasts;

- a significant change in the manner of our use of acquired assets or the strategy for our overall business;

- a significant decrease in the fair value of an asset;

- a shift in technology demands and development; and

- a significant turnover in key management or other personnel.

When we determine that the carrying value of goodwill, other intangible assets and other long-lived assets may not be recoverable based upon the existence of one or more of the above indicators of impairment, we measure any impairment based on a projected discounted cash flow method using a discount rate determined by our management to be commensurate with the risk inherent in our current business model. In the case of the other intangible assets and other long-lived assets, this measurement is only performed if the projected undiscounted cash flows for the asset are less than its carrying value.

In 2011, the Company performed its annual impairment analysis utilizing a quantitative assessment. We estimated the fair value of the reporting units based on the market approach and income approach. The income approach relies upon discounted future cash flows which are derived from various assumptions including: projected cash flows, discount rates, projected long-term growth rates and terminal values. The Company used a discount rate which reflects the risks and uncertainty related to each reporting unit. The analysis concluded that the estimated reporting units' fair values were higher than their carrying values.

In 2013 and 2012, the Company performed its annual impairment analysis. Utilizing the qualitative assessment option, we assessed qualitative factors to determine whether it was necessary to perform the two-step test (quantitative assessment). The analysis concluded that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair values of the Jewish Networks, Christian Networks, and Other Networks are higher than their carrying values. At December 31, 2013, the Company estimated that the fair values of its reporting units exceeded the carrying amounts of such reporting units.

As of December 31, 2013, Jewish Networks, Christian Networks, and Other Networks carried goodwill balances of $7.4 million, $1.7 million, and $0.2 million, respectively.

In 2013, the Company had an impairment expense of $265,000, representing the full unamortized balance of capitalized software development costs related to certain web-based products that failed to perform to Company standards. In 2012, no impairment charge was necessary.

In 2011, we impaired approximately $45,000 of capitalized software development costs when we determined that a Web-based product failed to perform to Company standards.

In 2011, the Company determined that certain domain names and computer software acquired from prior period acquisitions had no value based upon the expected future cash flows generated from the businesses associated with these assets, resulting in impairment charges of approximately $1.1 million.

Accounting for Business Combinations

We acquired the stock or specific assets of a number of companies from 1999 through 2013 some of which were considered to be business acquisitions. Under the purchase method of accounting, the costs are allocated to the underlying net assets, based on their respective estimated fair values. The excess of the purchase price over the estimated fair values of the net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill.

The judgments made in determining the estimated fair value and expected useful life assigned to each class of assets and liabilities acquired can significantly impact net income. Different classes of assets will have varying useful lives. For example, the useful life of a member database, which is typically three years, is not the same as the useful life of a paying subscriber list, which is typically three months, or a domain name, which is indefinite. Consequently, to the extent a longer-lived asset is ascribed greater value under the purchase method than a shorter-lived asset, there may be less amortization recorded in a given period or no amortization for indefinite lived intangibles.

Determining the fair value of certain assets and liabilities acquired is subjective in nature and often involves the use of significant estimates and assumptions.

The value of our intangible and other long-lived assets, including goodwill, is exposed to future adverse changes if we experience declines in operating results or experience significant negative industry or economic trends or if future performance is below historical trends.

Legal Contingencies

We are currently involved in certain legal proceedings, as discussed in the notes to the financial statements and under "Legal Proceedings." To the extent that a loss related to a contingency is reasonably estimable and probable, we accrue an estimate of that loss. Because of the uncertainties related to both the amount and range of loss on certain pending litigation, we may be unable to make a reasonable estimate of the liability that could result from an unfavorable outcome of such litigation. As additional information becomes available, we will assess the potential liability related to our pending litigation and make or, if necessary, revise our estimates. Such revisions in our estimates of the potential liability could materially impact our results of operations and financial position.

Accounting for Income Taxes

We account for income taxes using the asset and liability method, which requires the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of temporary differences between the carrying amounts and tax bases of the assets and liabilities.

As of December 31, 2013, we had a valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets of approximately $14.4 million. Companies are required to assess whether a valuation allowance should be recorded against their deferred tax assets ("DTAs") based on the consideration of all available evidence, using a "more likely than not" realization standard. In accordance with ASC 740, cumulative losses in recent years, which the Company defines as the most recent three year period, is considered significant negative evidence in evaluating the realizability of DTAs that is difficult to overcome. In light of the Company's recent history of losses, we are not able to conclude that it is more likely than not that our DTAs will be realized and we recorded a valuation allowance against our DTAs, with a corresponding charge to our income tax provision, of approximately $4.7 million and $8.9 million as of December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

At December 31, 2013, we had gross net operating loss ("NOL") carry-forwards for income tax purposes of approximately $34.7 million and $45.7 million available to reduce future federal and state taxable income, respectively, which expire beginning in the years 2025 for federal purposes and 2018 for state purposes. Under section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code, the utilization of the net operating loss carry-forwards can be limited based on changes in the percentage ownership of the Company.

The Company recognizes excess tax benefits associated with the exercise of stock options directly to stockholders' equity only when realized. Accordingly, deferred tax assets are not recognized for net operating losses resulting from excess tax benefits. As of December 31, 2013, deferred tax assets do not include approximately $5.3 million of these excess tax benefits from employee stock option exercises that are a component of the Company's NOL carry forwards. Additional paid in capital will be increased up to an additional $5.3 million if and when such excess tax benefits are realized. However, to the extent additional paid-in capital has been recognized for qualifying excess tax deductions from previous share-based payments, the write-off of the deferred tax asset when the tax deduction is less than recognized compensation cost is charged to additional paid-in capital , with any remainder charged to provision for income taxes.

We operate in multiple taxing jurisdictions, both within the United States and outside the United States. We have filed tax returns with positions that may be challenged by the tax authorities. These positions relate to, among others, transfer pricing, the deductibility of certain expenses, intercompany transactions as well as other matters. Although the outcome of tax audits is uncertain, we regularly assesses our tax position for such matters and, in management's opinion, adequate provisions for income taxes have been made for potential liabilities resulting from such matters. To the extent reserves are recorded, they will be utilized or reversed once the statute of limitations has expired and/or at the conclusion of the tax examination. We believe that the ultimate outcome of these matters will not have a material impact on our financial position or liquidity. We recognize the tax effects from an uncertain tax position in our financial statements, only if the position is more-likely-than-not of being sustained on audit, based on the technical merits of the position. Tax positions that meet the recognition threshold are reported at the largest amount that is more-likely-than-not to be realized.

Stock Based Compensation

We adopted the "Share-Based Payment" guidance in 2005 using the modified prospective approach. Prior to our adoption of the guidance, we did not record tax benefits of deductions resulting from the exercise of stock options because of the uncertainty surrounding the timing of realizing the benefits of our deferred tax assets in future tax returns. The guidance requires the cash flows resulting from the tax benefits resulting from tax deductions in excess of the compensation cost recognized for those options (excess tax benefits) to be classified as financing cash flows. In 2013, the Company did not recognize any cash inflows or outflows related to a tax benefit from stock-based compensation.

We calculate the fair value of stock options using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. The determination of the fair value of stock-based awards at the grant date requires judgment in developing assumptions, which involve a number of variables. These variables include, but are not limited to, the expected stock price volatility over the term of the awards, the expected dividend yield and the expected stock option exercise behavior. Additionally, judgment is also required in estimating the number of stock-based awards that are expected to be forfeited. We used historical and empirical data to assess different forfeiture rates for three different groups of employees. We must reassess forfeiture rates when deemed necessary and we must calibrate actual forfeiture behavior to what has already been recorded.

Our computation of expected volatility is based on a combination of historical and market-based implied volatility. The volatility rate was derived by examining historical stock price behavior and assessing management's expectations of stock price behavior during the term of the option. The term of the options was derived based on the "simplified method" calculation. The simplified method allows companies that do not have sufficient historical experience to provide a reasonable basis for an estimate to instead estimate the expected term of a "plain vanilla" option by averaging the time to vesting and the full term of the option. ("Plain vanilla" options are options with the following characteristics: (1) the options are granted at-the-money; (2) exercisability is conditional only upon performing service through the vesting date; (3) if an employee terminates service prior to vesting, the employee would forfeit the options; (4) if an employee terminates service after vesting, the employee would have a limited time to exercise the options (typically 30 to 90 days); and (5) the options are nontransferable and non-hedgeable.) We periodically evaluate the applicability of using the simplified method with respect to the characteristics noted above with respect to our options and will continue to do so as our business continues to evolve. If any of the assumptions used in the Black-Scholes model change significantly, stock-based compensation expense may differ materially in the future from that recorded in the current period. We believe the accounting for stock-based compensation is a critical accounting policy because it requires the use of complex judgment in its application.

Segment Reporting

Segment reporting requires the use of the management approach in determining the reportable operating segments. The management approach considers the internal organization and reporting used by our chief operating decision maker for making operating decisions and assessing performance. The Company's financial reporting includes detailed data on four separate operating segments which were principally determined based on similarity of economic characteristics. During the first quarter of 2012, the Company's management modified the internal reporting of its operating segments to: (1) Jewish Networks, which consists of,,,,, and their respective co-branded Web sites; (2) Christian Networks, which now consists of,,,,, and; (3) Other Networks, which consists of and related other general market Web sites as well as other properties which are primarily composed of sites targeted towards various religious, ethnic, geographic and special interest groups; and (4) Offline & Other Businesses, which consists of revenue generated from offline activities and HurryDate events and subscriptions. The Company believes the new segments provide investors with greater transparency into the performance of the business. Prior period amounts presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been reclassified to conform to the current period presentation.

Results of Operations

The following is a more detailed discussion of our financial condition and results of operations for the periods presented.

The following table presents our historical operating results as a percentage of revenue for the periods indicated:

                                               2013            2012           2011
  Revenue                                        100.0 %        100.0 %        100.0 %
  Costs and expenses:
  Cost of revenue                                 80.6           79.7           59.7
  Sales and marketing                              8.1            6.5            7.7
  Customer service                                 4.2            4.1            4.1
  Technical operations                             1.7            2.2            2.8
  Development                                      4.5            5.4            5.6
. . .
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