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Section 1: 10-K (10-K)

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                      to                     
Commission File Number: 0-25965
403093269_j2globallogo2019blue288x301c.jpg
J2 GLOBAL, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
47-1053457
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
700 S. Flower Street, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90017, (323) 860-9200
(Address and telephone number of principal executive offices)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.01 par value
JCOM
Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes   x No o

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes  o No x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes   x No o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).   Yes   x No o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “small reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
x
Accelerated filer
 o
Non-accelerated filer
 o
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
 
 
 
 
 
 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes   No x
 
As of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the approximate aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates, based upon the closing price of the common stock as quoted by the NASDAQ Global Select Market was $2,989,464,390. Shares of common stock held by executive officers, directors and holders of more than 5% of the outstanding common stock have been excluded. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
 
As of February 25, 2020, the registrant had 48,712,833 shares of common stock outstanding.
 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
 
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement to be delivered to stockholders in connection with the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held May 7, 2020 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.
 
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes 131 pages with the Index to Exhibits located on page 126.
 






TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
Page
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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PART I
Item 1.    Business

Overview
J2 Global, Inc., together with its subsidiaries (“J2 Global”, “our”, “us” or “we”), is a leading provider of internet services. Through our Cloud Services business, we provide cloud-based subscription services to consumers and businesses and license our intellectual property (“IP”) to third parties. In addition, the Cloud Services business includes fax, security, privacy, data backup, email marketing and voice products. Our Digital Media business specializes in the technology, gaming, broadband, business to business, healthcare, and international markets, offering content, tools and services to consumers and businesses.
We were incorporated in 2014 as a Delaware corporation through the creation of a new holding company structure, and our Cloud Services business, operated by our wholly owned subsidiary, J2 Cloud Services, LLC (formerly J2 Cloud Services, Inc.), and its subsidiaries, was founded in 1995.

Our Cloud Services business generates revenues primarily from customer subscription and usage fees and from IP licensing fees. Our Digital Media business generates revenues from advertising and sponsorships, subscription and usage fees, performance marketing and licensing fees.

In addition to growing our business organically, on a regular basis we acquire businesses to grow our customer bases, expand and diversify our service offerings, enhance our technologies, acquire skilled personnel and enter into new markets.
Our consolidated revenues are currently generated from three basic business models, each with different financial profiles and variability. Our Cloud Services business is driven primarily by subscription revenues that are relatively higher margin, stable and predictable from quarter to quarter with some seasonal weakness in the fourth quarter. The Cloud Services business also includes the results of our IP licensing business, which can vary dramatically in both revenues and profitability from period to period. Our Digital Media business is driven primarily by advertising revenues, has relatively higher sales and marketing expense and has seasonal strength in the fourth quarter. We continue to pursue additional acquisitions, which may include companies operating under business models that differ from those we operate under today. Such acquisitions could impact our consolidated profit margins and the variability of our revenues.
Cloud Services
Consumers and businesses of all sizes are increasingly subscribing to cloud-based services to meet their communication, messaging, security, privacy, data backup, hosting, customer marketing and other needs. Cloud-based services represent a model for delivering and consuming, independent of location, real time business technology services, resources and solutions over the internet. Their goal is to reduce or eliminate costs, increase sales and enhance productivity, mobility, business continuity and security. Our eFax®, MyFax® and sFax® online fax services enable users to securely send and receive faxes via the internet and email. Our Vipre security solutions protect our customers from cyber threats with endpoint and email security and threat intelligence. IPVanish and encrypt.me provide virtual private networks that encrypt our customers’ data and activity on the internet. KeepItSafe®, LiveVault®, OffsiteDataSync and Livedrive® enable our customers to securely back up their data and dispose of tape or other physical systems. Campaigner®, iContact and SMTP provide our customers enhanced email marketing and delivery solutions. eVoice®, Onebox® and Line2 provide our customers a virtual phone system with various available enhancements. All of these services represent software-as-a-service solutions except online backup which represents both a software-as-a-service solution and an infrastructure-as-a-service solution. We believe these services represent more efficient and less expensive solutions than many existing alternatives, and provide increased security, privacy, flexibility and mobility.
We generate substantially all of our Cloud Services revenues from “fixed” subscription revenues for basic customer subscriptions and, to a lesser extent, “variable” usage revenues generated from actual usage by our subscribers. Our online fax, virtual phone, email, customer marketing and online backup products have both a fixed and variable subscription component with the substantial majority of revenues derived from the fixed portion. In addition, the cost structures of all our Cloud Services are very similar in terms of fixed and variable components and include capital expenditures that are in proportion to revenue for each product offering. We also generate Cloud Services revenues from patent licensing.
We market our Cloud Services offerings to a broad spectrum of prospective business customers including sole proprietors, small to medium-sized businesses, enterprises and government organizations. We also market our Cloud Services offerings to consumers. Our marketing efforts include enhancing brand awareness; utilizing online advertising, search engines and affiliate programs; and selling through both a telesales and direct sales force. We continuously seek to extend the number of distribution channels through which we acquire paying customers and improve the cost and volume of customers obtained through our current channels.

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We offer the following cloud services and solutions:
Fax
eFax® is a leading brand in the global online fax market. Various tiers of service provide increasing levels of features and functionality to sole proprietors, small and medium-sized businesses, and enterprises around the world. Our most popular services allow individuals to receive and send faxes as email attachments. In addition to eFax®, we offer online fax services under a variety of alternative brands including sFax®, MyFax®, eFax Plus®, eFax Pro™, eFax Secure™, eFax Corporate™ and eFax Developer™.
Security
VIPRE™ software solutions protect people and businesses from costly and malicious cyber threats. VIPRE offerings include comprehensive endpoint and email security, along with threat intelligence for real-time malware analysis.
Excel Micro™ is a Cloud Security distributor focusing on providing email security, web security, and endpoint protection. Their solutions are offered to thousands of resellers in the United States who provide the product to their end customers.
Privacy

IPVanish offers one of the fastest virtual private network services in the industry. The IPVanish network spans 1,300+ servers across more than 75 locations around the world, enabling users to browse the internet securely and anonymously, without restriction.

Encrypt.me is an easy-to-use virtual private network (“VPN”) service that protects individuals, families and teams. Encrypt.me has a global server infrastructure and offers the option of self-hosted cloud VPN servers which users can set up in their homes, offices or remote data centers.

Backup

KeepItSafe® provides fully managed and monitored online backup and disaster recovery solutions for businesses, using its ISO-certified platform. KeepItSafe solutions for business continuity, backup and recovery fully protect the customer’s physical, virtual and cloud resources.
 
LiveDrive® provides online backup and sync storage features for professionals and individuals. The customers can access their files from anywhere at any time so long as they have access to the internet.

LiveVault® provides cloud backup and recovery services. LiveVault® services include, among other items, offsite protection of data combined with local backup, web based access to protected data and a mirrored data center to ensure recoverability.

OffsiteDataSync is a Platinum Veeam Service Provider with the Veeam Accredited Service Partner (“VASP”) designation, providing managed end-to-end solutions to secure physical, virtual, hybrid, and cloud-to-cloud environments.

SugarSync® provides online file backup, synchronization and sharing of all of a customer’s documents, photos, music and movies across all of the customer’s computers and mobile devices.

Email Marketing
Campaigner® and iContact provide email marketing solutions to help small, medium and large businesses strengthen customer relationships and drive sales. Campaigner and iContact offer professional email campaign creation, advanced list management and segmentation tools, marketing automation, attribution reports and campaign tracking, and targeted email autoresponders and workflows.
SMTP is our cloud-based solution for email delivery that enables our customers to begin using an email relay service. Using our SMTP platform, customers control all aspects of their email distribution and can review email campaign statistics through a dashboard. We have a team of experts that help our customers’ setup and optimize the SMTP relay.

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Voice
eVoice® is a virtual phone system that provides small and medium-sized businesses on-demand voice communications services. Customers can assign departmental and individual extensions that can connect to multiple numbers, including land-line and mobile phones and IP networks, and can enhance reachability through “find me/follow me” capabilities. These services also include advanced integrated voicemail for each extension.
Line2 is a cloud phone service which allows users to add a 2nd line to a mobile device. Line2 enables users to separate work and personal calls on a single device and includes standard business phone service features such as SMS, MMS, auto attendant, call routing, call forwarding, voicemail, call queue, toll-free and vanity numbers.
Onebox® is a full-featured unified communications suite. It combines the features of many of our other branded services, plus added functionality, to provide a full virtual office. Onebox® includes a virtual phone system, hosted email, online fax, audio conferencing and web conferencing.
IP Licensing
We hold a number of issued U.S. and foreign patents and other intellectual property rights. We seek to license some of these intellectual property rights to third parties in exchange for fees. We include the results of these activities within the Cloud Services business, exclusive of brand licensing by the Digital Media business.
Global Network and Operations
Our Cloud Services business operates multiple physical Points of Presence (“POPs”) worldwide, a central data center in Los Angeles and a remote disaster recovery facility. We connect our POPs to our central data centers via redundant, and often times diverse, Virtual Private Networks (“VPNs”) using the internet. Our network is designed to deliver value-added user applications, customer support and billing services for our customers anywhere in the world and a local presence for customers from thousands of cities in 50 countries on six continents. We offer our services in all major metropolitan areas in the United States (“U.S.”), the United Kingdom (“U.K.”), Canada and such major cities as Berlin, Copenhagen, Madrid, Manila, Mexico City, Milan, Paris, Rome, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Vienna and Zurich. Our customers are located throughout the world.
Customer Support Services
Our Cloud Services customer service organizations support our customers through a combination of online self-help, email communications, interactive chat sessions and telephone calls. Our internet-based online self-help tools enable customers to resolve simple issues on their own, eliminating the need to speak or write to our customer service representatives. We use internal personnel and contracted third parties (on a dedicated personnel basis) to answer our customer emails and telephone calls and to participate in interactive chat sessions.
Live sales and customer support services are available in various languages, including English, Spanish, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Cantonese.
Competition
Our Cloud Services business faces competition from, among others, online fax-providers, traditional fax machine or multi-function printer companies, unified messaging/communications providers, telephone companies, voicemail providers, companies offering PBX systems and outsourced PBX solutions, email marketing solution providers, various data backup and hosting providers, cyber security software and service vendors, and virtual private networks. Historically, our most popular solutions have related to online faxing, including the ability of our customers to access faxes via email and our outbound desktop faxing capabilities. These solutions compete primarily against traditional fax machine manufacturers, which are generally large and well-established companies, as well as publicly traded and privately-held providers of fax servers and related software and outsourced fax services. Some of these companies may have greater financial and other resources than we do.
We believe that the primary competitive factors determining our success in the market for our Cloud Services include financial strength and stability; pricing; reputation for reliability and security of service; intellectual property ownership; effectiveness of customer support; sign-up, service and software ease-of-use; service scalability; customer messaging and branding; geographic coverage; scope of services; currency and payment method acceptance; and local language sales, messaging and support.

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For more information regarding the competition that we face, please refer to the section entitled Risk Factors contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Digital Media
Our Digital Media business operates a portfolio of web properties and apps which includes IGN, Mashable, PC Mag, Humble Bundle, Speedtest, Offers, Black Friday, AskMen, MedPageToday, Everyday Health, What to Expect, among others. During 2019, our Digital Media web properties attracted approximately 7.5 billion visits and 29.3 billion page views.
Our properties provide trusted reviews of technology, gaming and lifestyle products and services; news and commentary related to their vertical markets; professional networking tools, targeted emails and white papers for IT professionals; speed testing for internet and mobile network connections; online deals and discounts for consumers; interactive tools and mobile applications that enable consumers to manage a broad array of health and wellness needs on a daily basis, including medical conditions, pregnancy, diet and fitness news; and tools and information for healthcare professionals to stay abreast of industry, legislative and regulatory developments in major medical specialties.
Our Digital Media business generates revenues from the sale of display and video advertising; customer clicks to online merchants as well as commissions on sales attributed to clicks to online merchants; business-to-business leads to IT vendors; the licensing of technology, data and other intellectual material to clients; and the sale of subscription services to consumers and businesses.
We believe competitive factors relating to attracting and retaining users include the ability to provide premium and exclusive content and the reach, effectiveness, and efficiency of our marketing services to attract consumers, advertisers, healthcare professionals and publishers. We continue to seek opportunities to acquire additional web properties, both within and outside of the technology, gaming, lifestyle, and healthcare verticals, with the goal of monetizing their audiences and content though application of our proprietary technologies and insight.
Web Properties
Our Digital Media properties and services include the following:
Technology
PCMag is an online resource for laboratory-based product reviews, technology news and buying guides. We operate one of the largest and oldest independent testing facilities for consumer technology products. Founded in 1984, our lab produces more than 2,200 unbiased technology product and service reviews annually. PCMag’s “Editor’s Choice” award is recognized globally as a trusted mark for buyers and sellers of technology products and services.
Mashable.com is a global media brand publishing premium content for individuals interested in technology and culture. Mashable is recognized as a trusted global brand and produces stories for more than a dozen platforms, including Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook.
Offers.com is a coupons & deals website featuring offers from more than 16,000 of the internet’s more popular stores and brands. Offers.com’s objective is to help consumers find the best deals on the web. Additionally, Offers.com employs a process to verify that its coupon codes work, saving consumers time and money.
BlackFriday.com, TheBlackFriday.com, BestBlackFriday.com and DealsofAmerica.com are resources for shoppers to find the best deals and offers from retailers during the height of the holiday shopping season.
Ookla provides customers fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications, data and analysis. Over ten million tests are actively initiated by consumers each day across all of Ookla’s Speedtest platforms, with more than 27 billion completed to date. As a result, Ookla maintains comprehensive analytics on worldwide internet performance and accessibility. Ookla solutions have been adopted by a significant number of internet service providers and mobile carriers worldwide and have been translated into over 30 languages for use by thousands of businesses, governments, universities and trade organizations.
Ekahau provides solutions for enterprise wireless network design and troubleshooting. More than 15,000 customers run their networks with Ekahau’s Wi-Fi planning and measurement solutions, which design and manage superior wireless networks by minimizing network deployment time and ensuring sufficient wireless coverage across the network.

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Downdetector offers real-time overviews of status information and outages for services and digital products that consumers use everyday. Downdetector aims to track any service that its users consider vital to their everyday lives, including (but not limited to) internet providers, mobile providers, airlines, public transport and other online services.

Ziff Davis B2B provides digital content for buyers of information technology (IT) products and services, allowing IT vendors to identify, reach and influence corporate IT decision makers who are actively researching specific IT purchases.

Gaming

IGN Entertainment is an internet media brand focused on the video game and entertainment enthusiast markets. IGN reaches more than 235 million monthly users and is followed by more than 16 million subscribers on YouTube and 40 million users on social platforms.
HumbleBundle.com is a digital subscription and storefront for video games, ebooks, and software. Customers purchase monthly subscriptions, product bundles, and individual products through our website. In addition, raising money for charity is a core mission for Humble Bundle. Each product sale transaction at Humble Bundle results in a charitable contribution.
Healthcare
Everyday Health Group properties include a collection of health and wellness content and services for the consumer, expecting and new parents and healthcare professionals.
Everyday Health Consumer

Consumer-focused properties include online content, interactive tools and applications designed to allow consumers to manage a broad array of health and wellness needs on a daily basis. Everyday Health, our flagship brand, is a broad-based health information portal that provides consumers with trusted and actionable health information intended to empower users to better manage their health and wellness.
 
We operate the Mayo Clinic Diet digital program, a subscription-based plan for weight loss, and ultimately better health, developed by the weight loss experts at Mayo Clinic. Based on the bestselling book by the same name, the Mayo Clinic Diet digital program provides a step-by-step program to jump-start quick weight loss, achieve a goal weight and maintain it for life.

We own and operate Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a premier brand in healthcare research and physician ratings and publisher of the renowned Top Doctor series, including America’s Top Doctors.

Everyday Health Pregnancy & Parenting
We own and operate the BabyCenter brand, the leading global digital pregnancy and parenting resource. BabyCenter operates 10 international versions in nine different languages along with multiple international app editions delivered via websites, mobile apps and online communities. We also operate the digital properties for the What to Expect brand, a leading pregnancy and parenting media resource. Based on the best-selling pregnancy book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by author Heidi Murkoff, the What to Expect website and mobile applications contain content on conception planning and pregnancy, as well as information on newborns and toddlers.

Everyday Health Professional Properties

For healthcare professionals, we provide digital content that enables healthcare professionals to stay abreast of clinical, industry, legislative and regulatory developments across all major medical specialties. Our flagship professional property, MedPage Today, delivers daily breaking medical news across all major medical specialties and major public policy developments from Washington D.C. MedPage Today coordinates with leading researchers, clinicians and academic medical centers to aid in gathering in-depth information for its coverage. MedPage Todayexcellence has been recognized with awards from the American Society of Healthcare Business Editors, the National Institute for Healthcare Management, the eHealthcare Leadership Awards, the Medical Marketing and Media Awards and the Web Health Awards. Additionally, MedPage Today was named as a finalist for the Jesse M. Neal Award and the Gerald M. Loeb Award.


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PRIME Education provides accredited continuing medical education (“CME”) and continuing education (“CE”) programs to healthcare professionals. PRIME is nationally recognized for its healthcare outcomes research and its conduct of research-informed and other CME and CE programs in various therapeutic areas. 

Display and Video Advertising
We sell online display and video advertising on our owned-and-operated web properties and on third party sites as well as targeted advertising across the internet through various unaffiliated third party digital advertising networks.
We have contractual arrangements with advertisers either directly or through agencies. The terms of these contracts specify the price of the advertising to be sold and the volume of advertisements that will be served over the course of a campaign.
In addition to the contracts with advertisers and agencies, we have contractual arrangements with certain third party websites not owned by us and third party advertising networks to deliver online display and video advertising to their websites or to third-party sites.
Performance Marketing
We generate business-to-business leads for IT vendors through the marketing of content, including white papers and webinars, and offer additional lead qualification and nurturing services. On the consumer side, we generate clicks to online merchants by promoting deals and discounts on our web properties.
Licensing
We license our proprietary technology, data and intellectual property to third parties for various purposes. For instance, we will license the right to use PCMag’s “Editors’ Choice” logo and other copyrighted editorial content to businesses whose products have earned such distinction.
Subscriptions
We offer subscriptions to businesses for Speedtest Intelligence, which offers up-to-date insights into global fixed broadband and mobile performance data. We offer subscriptions to consumers for our Mayo Clinic Diet program, PCMag Digital Edition and Humble Bundle.
Competition
Competition in the digital media space is fierce and continues to intensify.

Our digital media business competes with online publishers including CNET, GameSpot, WebMD, Healthline, Medscape, Vox and others as well as with portals, advertising networks, social media sites and other platforms, including Google, Facebook, Twitch and others. We believe that the primary competitive factors determining our success in the market for our digital media include the reputation of brands as trusted sources of objective information and our ability to attract internet users and advertisers to our web properties.

For more information regarding the competition that we face, please refer to the section entitled Risk Factors contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Patents and Proprietary Rights
We regard the protection of our intellectual property rights as important to our success. We aggressively protect these rights by relying on a combination of patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade dress and trade secrets. We also enter into confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreements with employees and contractors, and nondisclosure agreements with parties with whom we conduct business in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information.
Through a combination of internal technology development and acquisitions, we have built a portfolio of numerous U.S. and foreign patents. We generate licensing revenues from some of these patents. We are currently engaged in litigation to enforce several of our patents. For a more detailed description of the lawsuits in which we are involved, see Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

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We intend to continue to invest in patents, to aggressively protect our patent assets from unauthorized use and to generate patent licensing revenues from authorized users.
Several of our U.S. patents have been reaffirmed through reexamination proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). We have generated royalties from licensing certain of our patents and have enforced certain patents against companies using our patented technology without our permission.
We seek patents for inventions that may contribute to our business or technology sector. In addition, we have multiple pending U.S. and foreign patent applications, covering components of our technology and in some cases technologies beyond those that we currently offer. Unless and until patents are issued on the pending applications, no patent rights can be enforced.
We have obtained patent licenses for certain technologies where such licenses are necessary or advantageous.
We own and use a number of trademarks in connection with our services, including word and/or logo trademarks for eFax, MyFax, eFax Corporate, Sfax, eVoice, KeepItSafe, Onebox, PCMag, IGN, Everyday Health, AskMen, Humble Bundle, Mashable, Health eCareers, Ookla, Speedtest, and Geek.com, among others. Many of these trademarks are registered worldwide, and numerous trademark applications are pending around the world. We hold numerous internet domain names, including “efax.com”, “efaxcorporate.com”, “myfax.com”, “fax.com”, “evoice.com”, “keepitsafe.com”, “campaigner.com”, “onebox.com”, “pcmag.com”, “techbargains.com”, “ign.com”, “askmen.com”, “speedtest.net”, “offers.com”, “humblebundle.com”, “mashable.com”, “healthecareers.com”, and “geek.com”, among others. We have filed to protect our rights to our brands in certain alternative top-level domains such as “.org”, “.net”, “.biz”, “.info” and “.us”, among others.

Like other technology-based businesses, we face the risk that we will be unable to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights, and the risk that we will be found to have infringed the proprietary rights of others. For more information regarding these risks, please refer to the section entitled Risk Factors contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Government Regulation
We are subject to a number of foreign and domestic laws and regulations that affect companies conducting business over the internet and, in some cases, using services of third-party telecommunications and internet service providers. These include, among others, laws and regulations addressing privacy, data storage, retention and security, freedom of expression, content, taxation, numbers, advertising and intellectual property. With respect to most of our business, we are not a regulated telecommunications provider in the U.S. For information about the risks we face with respect to governmental regulation, please see Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K entitled Risk Factors.
Seasonality
Our Cloud Services revenues are impacted by the number of effective business days in a given period. We traditionally experience lower than average Cloud Services usage and customer sign-ups in the fourth quarter. Revenues associated with our Digital Media operations are subject to seasonal fluctuations, becoming most active during the fourth quarter holiday period due to increased retail activity.
Research and Development
The markets for our services are evolving rapidly, requiring ongoing expenditures for research and development and timely introduction of new services and service enhancements. Our future success will depend, in part, on our ability to enhance our current services, to respond effectively to technological changes, attract and retain engineering talent, sell additional services to our existing customer base and introduce new services and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated needs of our customers.
We devote significant resources to develop new services and service enhancements. Our research, development and engineering expenditures were $54.4 million, $48.4 million and $46.0 million for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. For more information regarding the technological risks that we face, please refer to the section entitled Risk Factors contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Employees
As of December 31, 2019, we had approximately 3,090 employees, the majority of whom are in the U.S.

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Our future success will depend, in part, on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified technical, marketing and management personnel. Approximately 70 of the editorial employees in our Digital Media business have elected to join a union. We chose to voluntarily recognize the union and have commenced negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement. None of our other employees are represented by any collective bargaining unit or agreement. We have never experienced a work stoppage. We believe our relationship with our employees is good.
Web Availability of Reports
We file Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). Such reports and other information and amendments thereto filed or furnished by the Company with the SEC are available free of charge on the Company’s website at www.J2.com as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such reports with, or furnish them to, the SEC’s website. The information on our website is not part of this report. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding our filings we file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

Before deciding to invest in J2 Global or to maintain or increase your investment, you should carefully consider the risks described below in addition to the other cautionary statements and risks described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings with the SEC, including our subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may affect our business. If any of these known or unknown risks or uncertainties actually occurs, our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially adversely affected. In that event, the market price of our common stock will likely decline and you may lose part or all of your investment.

Risks Related To Our Business

Acquisitions and investments in our business have historically played a significant role in our growth and we anticipate that they will continue to do so.

We must acquire additional or invest in new or current businesses, products, services and technologies that complement or augment our service offerings and customer base in order to sustain our rate of growth. We may not successfully identify suitable acquisition candidates or investment strategies, manage disparate technologies, lines of business, personnel and corporate cultures, realize our business strategy or the expected return on our investment or manage a geographically dispersed company. If we are unable to identify and execute on acquisitions or execute on our investment strategies, our revenues, business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could suffer.

We have made and expect to continue to make acquisitions that could disrupt our operations and harm our operating results.

We intend to continue to develop new services, enhance existing services and expand our geographic presence through acquisitions of other companies, service lines, technologies and personnel.

Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including the following:

Difficulties in integrating the operations, systems, technologies, products and personnel of the acquired businesses;
Difficulties in entering markets in which we have no or limited direct prior experience and where competitors in such markets may have stronger market positions;
Diversion of management’s attention from normal daily operations of the business and the challenges of managing larger and more widespread operations resulting from acquisitions; and
The potential loss of key employees, customers, distributors, vendors and other business partners of the businesses we acquire.

Acquisitions may also cause us to:

Use a substantial portion of our cash resources or incur debt;
Significantly increase our interest expense, leverage and debt service requirements if we incur additional debt to pay for an acquisition;
Assume liabilities;
Issue common stock that would dilute our current stockholders’ percentage ownership;
Record goodwill and intangible assets that are subject to impairment testing on a regular basis and potential periodic impairment charges;
Incur amortization expenses related to certain intangible assets; and
Become subject to intellectual property or other litigation.

Mergers and acquisitions are inherently risky and subject to many factors outside of our control. We cannot give assurance that our previous or future acquisitions will be successful and will not materially adversely affect our business, operating results or financial condition. Failure to manage and successfully integrate acquisitions could materially harm our business and operating results. In addition, our effective tax rate for future periods is uncertain and could be impacted by mergers and acquisitions.

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The majority of our revenue within the Digital Media business is derived from short-term advertising arrangements and a reduction in spending by or loss of current or potential advertisers would cause our revenue and operating results to decline.

In most cases, our agreements with advertisers have a term of one year or less and may be terminated at any time by the advertiser or by us without penalty. Advertising agreements often provide that we receive payment based on “served” impressions but the online ad industry has started to shift so that payment will be made based on “viewable” impressions, and that change in basis could have a negative effect on available impressions thereby reducing our revenue potential. Accordingly, it is difficult to forecast display revenue accurately. In addition, our expense levels are based in part on expectations of future revenue. Moreover, we believe that advertising on the internet, as in traditional media, fluctuates significantly as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control. Some of these factors include budget constraints of our advertisers, cancellations or delays of projects by our advertisers, the cyclical and discretionary nature of advertising spending, general economic, internet-related and media industry conditions, as well as extraordinary events. The state of the global economy and availability of capital has impacted and could further impact the advertising spending patterns of existing and potential advertisers. Any reduction in spending by, or loss of, existing or potential advertisers would negatively impact our revenue and operating results. Further, we may be unable to adjust our expenses and capital expenditures quickly enough to compensate for any unexpected revenue shortfall.
If we are unable to develop, commission or acquire compelling content in our Digital Media business at acceptable prices, our expenses may increase, the number of visitors to our online properties may not grow as anticipated, or may decline, and/or visitors’ level of engagement with our websites may decline, any of which could harm our operating results.
Our future success depends in part on the ability of our Digital Media business to aggregate compelling content and deliver that content through our online properties. We believe that users will increasingly demand high-quality content and services including more video and mobile-specific content. Such content and services may require us to make substantial payments to third parties if we are unable to develop content of our own. Our ability to maintain and build relationships with such third-party providers is critical to our success. In addition, as new methods for accessing the internet become available, including through alternative devices, we may need to enter into amended agreements with existing third-party providers to cover the new devices. We may be unable to monetize the activity on these alternative devices including mobile devices which may supplant current traffic that we monetize. We may be unable to enter into new, or preserve existing, relationships with the third-parties whose content or services we seek to obtain. In addition, as competition for compelling content increases both domestically and internationally, our third-party providers may increase the prices at which they offer their content and services to us and potential providers may not offer their content or services to us at all, or may offer them on terms that are not agreeable to us. An increase in the prices charged to us by third-party providers could harm our operating results and financial condition. Further, many of our content and services licenses with third parties are non-exclusive. Accordingly, other media providers may be able to offer similar or identical content. This increases the importance of our ability to deliver compelling content and personalization of this content for users in order to differentiate our properties from other businesses. Although we generally develop compelling content of our own, when are unable to do so we engage freelance services or obtain licensed content which may not be at reasonable prices and which could harm our operating results.

Users are increasingly using mobile devices to access our content within our Digital Media business and if we are unsuccessful in attracting new users to our mobile offerings, and expanding the capabilities of our content and other offerings with respect to our mobile platforms, our net revenues could decline.

Web usage and the consumption of digital content are increasingly shifting to mobile platforms such as smartphones and other connected devices. Visits to our mobile websites and applications have increased but if the percentage of visits to our mobile websites does not continue to grow or we are unable to effectively monetize our mobile content, net revenue will be impacted. In addition, we are less effective at monetizing digital content on our mobile websites and applications compared to our desktop websites. The growth of our business depends in part on our ability to continue to adapt to the mobile environment and to deliver compelling solutions to consumers and retailers through these new mobile marketing channels. In addition, our success on mobile platforms will be dependent on our interoperability with popular mobile operating systems that we do not control, and any changes in such systems that degrade our functionality or give preferential treatment to competitive services could adversely affect usage of our services through mobile devices.


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A system failure, security breach or other technological risk could delay or interrupt service to our customers, harm our reputation or subject us to significant liability.

Our operations are dependent on our network being free from material interruption by damage from fire, earthquake, power loss, telecommunications failure, unauthorized entry, computer viruses, cyber-attacks or any other events beyond our control. Similarly, the operations of our partners and other third parties with which we work are also susceptible to the same risks. There can be no assurance that our existing and planned precautions of backup systems, regular data backups, security protocols and other procedures will be adequate to prevent significant damage, system failure or data loss and the same is true for our partners, vendors and other third parties on which we rely. We have experienced automated log in attempts to gain unauthorized access to customer accounts. To date, these events have not resulted in the material impairment of any business operations.

Also, many of our services are web-based, and the amount of data we store for our users on our servers has been increasing. Despite the implementation of security measures, our infrastructure, and that of our partners, vendors and other third parties, may be vulnerable to computer viruses, hackers or similar disruptive problems caused by our vendors, partners, other third parties, subscribers, employees or other internet users who attempt to invade public and private data networks. As seen in the industries in which we operate and others, these activities have been, and will continue to be, subject to continually evolving cybersecurity and technological risks. Further, in some cases we do not have in place disaster recovery facilities for certain ancillary services. Moreover, a significant portion of our operations relies heavily on the secure processing, storage and transmission of confidential and other sensitive data. For example, a significant number of our Cloud Services customers authorize us to bill their credit or debit card accounts directly for all transaction fees charged by us. We rely on encryption and authentication technology to effect secure transmission of confidential information, including customer credit and debit card numbers. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other developments may result in a material compromise or breach of the technology used by us, our partners, vendors, or other third parties, to protect transaction and other confidential data. Any system failure or security breach that causes interruptions or data loss in our operations, our partners, vendors, or other third parties, or in the computer systems of our customers or leads to the misappropriation of our or our customers’ confidential information could result in a significant liability to us (including in the form of judicial decisions and/or settlements, regulatory findings and/or forfeitures, and other means), cause considerable harm to us and our reputation (including requiring notification to customers, regulators, and/or the media), cause a loss of confidence in our products and services, and deter current and potential customers from using our services. Our Board is briefed on cybersecurity risks and we implement cybersecurity risk management under our Board’s oversight. We use vendors to assist with cybersecurity risks, but these vendors may not be able to assist us adequately in preparing for or responding to a cybersecurity incident. We maintain insurance related to cybersecurity risks, but this insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of our losses from any breaches or other adverse consequences related to a cybersecurity-event. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows, or cause us to suffer other negative consequences. For example, we may incur remediation costs (such as liability for stolen assets or information, repairs of system damage, and incentives to customers or business partners in an effort to maintain relationships after an attack); increased cybersecurity protection costs (which may include the costs of making organizational changes, deploying additional personnel and protection technologies, training employees, and engaging third party experts and consultants); lost revenues resulting from the unauthorized use of proprietary information or the failure to retain or attract customers following an attack; litigation and legal risks (including regulatory actions by state and federal governmental authorities and non-U.S. authorities); increased insurance premiums; reputational damage that adversely affects customer or investor confidence; and damage to the company’s competitiveness, stock price, and diminished long-term shareholder value. To date, these events have not resulted in the material impairment of any business operations.

In our Digital Media business, if we are unable to prove that our advertising and sponsorship solutions provide an attractive return on investment for our customers, our financial results could be harmed.
 
Our ability to grow revenue from our Digital Media business will be dependent on our ability to demonstrate to marketers that their marketing campaigns with us provide a meaningful return on investment (“ROI”) relative to offline and other online opportunities. Certain of the marketing campaigns with respect to our Digital Media business are designed such that the revenues received are based entirely upon the ROI delivered for customers. Our Digital Media business has invested significant resources in developing its research, analytics and campaign effectiveness capabilities and expects to continue to do so in the future. Our ability, however, to demonstrate the value of advertising and sponsorship on Digital Media business properties will depend, in part, on the sophistication of the analytics and measurement capabilities, the actions taken by our competitors to enhance their offerings, whether we meet the ROI expectations of our customers and a number of other factors. If we are unable to maintain sophisticated marketing and communications solutions that provide value to our customers or demonstrate our ability to provide value to our customers, our financial results will be harmed.


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Our fax services constitute a significant percentage of our revenue.

Currently, fax-to-email revenue constitutes approximately 23% of our consolidated revenues. The success of our business is therefore dependent upon the continued use of fax as a messaging medium and/or our ability to diversify our service offerings and derive more revenue from other services, such as voice, online backup, email, unified messaging solutions and services related to our Digital Media business. If the demand for online fax-to-email as a messaging medium decreases, and we are unable to replace lost revenues from decreased usage or cancellation of our fax services with a proportional increase in our customer base or with revenues from our other services, our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially and adversely affected.
 
We believe that one of the attractive features of our eFax® and similar products is that fax signatures are a generally accepted method of executing contracts. There are ongoing efforts by governmental and non-governmental entities to create a universally accepted method for electronically signing documents. Widespread adoption of so-called “digital signatures” could reduce demand for our fax services and, as a result, could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

Political instability and volatility in the economy may adversely affect segments of our customers, which may result in decreased usage and advertising levels, customer acquisition and customer retention rates and, in turn, could lead to a decrease in our revenues or rate of revenue growth.

Certain segments of our customers may be adversely affected by political instability and volatility in the general economy or renewed downturns. To the extent these customers’ businesses are adversely affected by political instability or volatility, their usage of our services and/or our customer retention rates could decline. This may result in decreased cloud services subscription and/or usage revenues and decreased advertising, e-commerce or other revenues, which may adversely impact our revenues and profitability.

Our growth will depend on our ability to develop, strengthen, and protect our brands, and these efforts may be costly and have varying degrees of success.
 
Our brand recognition has significantly contributed to the success of our business. Strengthening our current brands and launching competitive new brands will be critical to achieving widespread commercial acceptance of our products and services. This will require our continued focus on active marketing, the costs of which have been increasing and may continue to increase. In addition, substantial initial investments may be required to launch new brands and expand existing brands to cover new geographic territories and technology fields. Accordingly, we may need to spend increasing amounts of money on, and devote greater resources to, advertising, marketing and other efforts to cultivate brand recognition and customer loyalty. In addition, we are supporting an increasing number of brands, each of which requires its own investment of resources. Brand promotion activities may not yield increased revenues and, even if they do, increased revenues may not offset the expenses incurred. A failure to launch, promote, and maintain our brands, or the incurrence of substantial expenses in doing so, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
 
 Our brand recognition depends, in part, on our ability to protect our trademark portfolio and establish trademark rights covering new brands and territories. Some regulators and competitors have taken the view that certain of our brands, such as eFax and eVoice, are descriptive or generic when applied to the products and services offered by our Cloud Services business. Nevertheless, we have obtained U.S. and foreign trademark registrations for our brand names, logos, and other brand identifiers, including, eFax and eVoice. If we are unable to obtain, maintain or protect trademark rights covering our brands across the territories in which they are or may be offered, the value of these brands may be diminished, competitors may be able to dilute, harm, or take advantage of our brand recognition and reputation, and our ability to attract subscribers may be adversely affected.
 
We hold domain names relating to our brands, in the U.S. and internationally. The acquisition and maintenance of domain names are generally regulated by governmental agencies and their designees. The regulation of domain names may change. Governing bodies may establish additional top-level domains, appoint additional domain name registrars or modify the requirements for holding domain names. As a result, we may be unable to acquire or maintain all relevant domain names that relate to our brands. Furthermore, international rules governing the acquisition and maintenance of domain names in foreign jurisdictions are sometimes different from U.S. rules, and we may not be able to obtain all of our domains internationally. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to prevent third parties from acquiring domain names that are similar to, infringe upon or otherwise decrease the value of our brands, trademarks or other proprietary rights. In addition, failure to secure or maintain domain names relevant to our brands could adversely affect our reputation and make it more difficult for users to find our websites and services.


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Increased numbers of credit and debit card declines in our business could lead to a decrease in our revenues or rate of revenue growth.

A significant number of our paid Cloud Services subscribers and certain Digital Media subscribers pay for our services through credit and debit cards. Weakness in certain segments of the credit markets and in the U.S. and global economies could result in increased numbers of rejected credit and debit card payments. We believe this could result in increased customer cancellations and decreased customer signups. Rejected credit or debit card payments, customer cancellations and decreased customer sign up may adversely impact our revenues and profitability.

If our business experiences excessive fraudulent activity or cannot meet evolving credit card company merchant standards, we could incur substantial costs and lose the right to accept credit cards for payment and our subscriber base could decrease significantly.

A significant number of our paid Cloud Services subscribers and certain Digital Media subscribers authorize us to bill their credit card accounts directly for all service fees charged by us. If people pay for these services with stolen credit cards, we could incur substantial unreimbursed third-party vendor costs. We also incur losses from claims that the customer did not authorize the credit card transaction to purchase our service. If the numbers of unauthorized credit card transactions become excessive, we could be assessed substantial fines for excess chargebacks and could lose the right to accept credit cards for payment. In addition, we are subject to Payment Card Industry (“PCI”) data security standards, which require periodic audits by independent third parties to assess our compliance. PCI standards are a comprehensive set of requirements for enhancing payment account data security. Failure to comply with the security requirements or rectify a security issue may result in fines or a restriction on accepting payment cards. Credit card companies may change the standards required to utilize their services from time to time. If we are unable to meet these new standards, we could be unable to accept credit cards. Further, the law relating to the liability of providers of online payment services is currently unsettled and states may enact their own rules with which we may not comply. Substantial losses due to fraud or our inability to accept credit card payments, which could cause our paid subscriber base to significantly decrease, could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

The markets in which we operate are highly competitive and our competitors may have greater resources to commit to growth, superior technologies, cheaper pricing or more effective marketing strategies. Also, we face significant competition for users, advertisers, publishers, developers and distributors.

For information regarding our competition, and the risks arising out of the competitive environment in which we operate, see the section entitled Competition contained in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, some of our competitors include major companies with much greater resources and significantly larger subscriber bases than we have. Some of these competitors offer their services at lower prices than we do. These companies may be able to develop and expand their network infrastructures and capabilities more quickly, adapt more swiftly to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements, take advantage of acquisition and other opportunities more readily and devote greater resources to the marketing and sale of their products and services than we can. There can be no assurance that additional competitors will not enter markets that we are currently serving and plan to serve or that we will be able to compete effectively. Competitive pressures may reduce our revenue, operating profits or both.

Our Digital Media business faces significant competition from online media companies as well as from social networking sites, mobile application, traditional print and broadcast media, general purpose and search engines and various e-commerce sites.
Several of our competitors offer an integrated variety of internet products, advertising services, technologies, online services and content. We compete against these and other companies to attract and retain users, advertisers and developers. We also compete with social media and networking sites which are attracting a substantial and increasing share of users and users’ online time, and may continue to attract an increasing share of online advertising dollars.
In addition, several competitors offer products and services that directly compete for users with our Digital Media business offerings. Similarly, the advertising networks operated by our competitors or by other participants in the display marketplace offer services that directly compete with our offerings for advertisers, including advertising exchanges, ad networks, demand side platforms, ad serving technologies and sponsored search offerings. We also compete with traditional print and broadcast media companies to attract advertising spending. Some of our existing competitors and possible entrants may have greater brand recognition for certain products and services, more expertise in a particular segment of the market, and greater operational, strategic, technological, financial, personnel, or other resources than we do. Many of our competitors have access to considerable financial and technical resources with which to compete aggressively, including by funding future growth and expansion and investing in acquisitions, technologies, and research and development. Further, emerging start-ups may be able to innovate and provide new products and services faster than we can. In addition, competitors may consolidate with each other or collaborate, and new

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competitors may enter the market. Some of the competitors for our Cloud Services business in international markets have a substantial competitive advantage over us because they have dominant market share in their territories, are owned by local telecommunications providers, have greater brand recognition, are focused on a single market, are more familiar with local tastes and preferences, or have greater regulatory and operational flexibility due to the fact that we may be subject to both U.S. and foreign regulatory requirements.
If our competitors are more successful than we are in developing and deploying compelling products or in attracting and retaining users, advertisers, publishers, developers, or distributors, our revenue and growth rates could decline.

As a creator and a distributor of content over the internet, we face potential liability for legal claims based on the nature and content of the materials that we create or distribute.
 
Users access health-related content through our Everyday Health Group properties, including information regarding particular medical conditions, diagnosis and treatment and possible adverse reactions or side effects from medications. If our content, or content we obtain from third parties, contains inaccuracies, it is possible that consumers or professionals who rely on that content or others may make claims against us with various causes of action. Although our properties contain terms and conditions, including disclaimers of liability, that are intended to reduce or eliminate our liability, third parties may claim that these online agreements are unenforceable.
 
Our editorial and other quality control procedures may not be sufficient to ensure that there are no errors or omissions in our content offerings or to prevent such errors and omissions in content that is controlled by our partners. Even if potential claims do not result in liability to us, investigating and defending against these claims could be expensive and time consuming and could divert management’s attention away from our operations.

We may be engaged in legal proceedings that could cause us to incur unforeseen expenses and could divert significant operational resources and our management’s time and attention.
 
From time to time, we are subject to litigation or claims or are involved in other legal disputes or regulatory inquiries, including in the areas of patent infringement and anti-trust, that could negatively affect our business operations and financial condition. Such disputes could cause us to incur unforeseen expenses, divert operational resources, occupy a significant amount of our management’s time and attention and negatively affect our business operations and financial condition. The outcomes of such matters are subject to inherent uncertainties, carrying the potential for unfavorable rulings that could include monetary damages and injunctive relief. We do not always have insurance coverage for defense costs, judgments, and settlements. We may also be subject to indemnification requirements with business partners, vendors, current and former officers and directors, and other third parties. Payments under such indemnification provisions may be material. For a more detailed description of certain lawsuits in which we are involved, see Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
  
Our business is highly dependent on our billing systems.
 
A significant part of our revenues depends on prompt and accurate billing processes. Customer billing is a highly complex process, and our billing systems must efficiently interface with third-party systems, such as those of credit card processing companies. Our ability to accurately and efficiently bill our customers is dependent on the successful operation of our billing systems and the third-party systems upon which we rely, such as our credit card processor, and our ability to provide these third parties the information required to process transactions. In addition, our ability to offer new services or alternative-billing plans is dependent on our ability to customize our billing systems. Any failures or errors in our billing systems or procedures could impair our ability to properly bill our current customers or attract and service new customers, and thereby could materially and adversely affect our business and financial results.
 
Inadequate intellectual property protections could prevent us from defending our proprietary technology and intellectual property.

Our success depends, in part, upon our proprietary technology and intellectual property. We rely on a combination of patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, contractual restrictions, and other confidentiality safeguards to protect our proprietary technology. However, these measures may provide only limited protection and it may be costly and time-consuming to enforce compliance with our intellectual property rights. In some circumstances, we may not have adequate, economically feasible or realistic options for enforcing our intellectual property and we may be unable to detect unauthorized use. While we have a robust worldwide portfolio of issued patents and pending patent applications, there can be no assurance that any of these patents will not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, that we will be able to successfully police infringement, or that any rights granted under these patents will in fact provide a competitive advantage to us.

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In addition, our ability to register or protect our patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual property may be limited in some foreign countries. As a result, we may not be able to effectively prevent competitors in these regions from utilizing our intellectual property, which could reduce our competitive advantage and ability to compete in those regions and negatively impact our business.

We also strive to protect our intellectual property rights by relying on federal, state and common law rights, as well as contractual restrictions. We typically enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and contractors, and confidentiality agreements with parties with whom we conduct business in order to limit access to, and disclosure and use of, our proprietary information. However, we may not be successful in executing these agreements with every party who has access to our confidential information or contributes to the development of our technology or intellectual property rights. Those agreements that we do execute may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach. These contractual arrangements and the other steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property rights may not prevent the misappropriation or disclosure of our proprietary information nor deter independent development of similar technology or intellectual property by others.

Monitoring unauthorized use of the content on our websites and mobile applications, and our other intellectual property and technology, is difficult and costly. Our efforts to protect our proprietary rights and intellectual property may not have been and may not be adequate to prevent their misappropriation or misuse. Third parties from time to time copy content or other intellectual property or technology from our solutions without authorization and seek to use it for their own benefit. We generally seek to address such unauthorized copying or use, but we have not always been successful in stopping all unauthorized use of our content or other intellectual property or technology, and may not be successful in doing so in the future. Further, we may not have been and may not be able to detect unauthorized use of our technology or intellectual property, or to take appropriate steps to enforce our intellectual property rights.

Companies that operate in the same industry as our Cloud Services and Digital Media businesses have experienced substantial litigation regarding intellectual property. Currently, we have pending patent infringement lawsuits, both offensive and defensive, against several companies in this industry. Furthermore, we may find it necessary or appropriate to initiate claims or litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights or determine the validity and scope of intellectual property rights claimed by others. This or any other litigation to enforce or defend our intellectual property rights may be expensive and time-consuming, could divert management resources and may not be adequate to protect our business.

As we continue to grow our international operations, adverse currency fluctuations and foreign exchange controls could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
 
As we expand our international operations, we could be exposed to significant risks of currency fluctuations. In some countries outside the U.S., we offer our services in the applicable local currency, including but not limited to the Australian Dollar, the Canadian Dollar, the Euro, the Hong Kong Dollar, the Japanese Yen, the New Zealand Dollar, the Norwegian Kroner and the British Pound Sterling, among others. As a result, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates affect the results of our operations, which in turn may materially adversely affect reported earnings and the comparability of period to period results of operations. Changes in currency exchange rates may also affect the relative prices at which we and foreign competitors sell our services in the same market. In addition, changes in the value of the relevant currencies may affect the cost of certain items required in our operations. Furthermore, we may become subject to exchange control regulations, which might restrict or prohibit our conversion of other currencies into U.S. Dollars. We cannot assure you that future exchange rate movements will not have a material adverse effect on our future business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. To date, we have not entered into foreign currency hedging transactions to control or minimize these risks.
 
We may be subject to risks from international operations.
 
As we continue to expand our business operations in countries outside the U.S., our future results could be materially adversely affected by a variety of uncontrollable and changing factors including, among others, foreign currency exchange rates; political or social unrest or economic instability in a specific country or region; trade protection measures and other regulatory requirements which may affect our ability to provide our services; difficulties in staffing and managing international operations; and adverse tax consequences, including imposition of withholding or other taxes on payments by subsidiaries and affiliates. Any or all of these factors could have a material adverse impact on our future business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.
 
We have only limited experience in marketing and operating our services in certain international markets. Moreover, we have in some cases experienced and expect to continue to experience in some cases higher costs as a percentage of revenues in

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connection with establishing and providing services in international markets versus in the U.S. In addition, certain international markets may be slower than the U.S. in adopting the internet and/or outsourced messaging and communications solutions and so our operations in international markets may not develop at a rate that supports our level of investments.

Further, the impact on the global economy as a result of unforeseen global crises such as war, strife, strikes, global health pandemics, earthquakes or major weather events or other uncontrollable events could negatively impact our revenue and operating results.

We may be found to have infringed the intellectual property rights of others, which could expose us to substantial damages or restrict our operations.

We have been and expect to continue to be subject to legal claims that we have infringed the intellectual property rights of others. The ready availability of damages and royalties and the potential for injunctive relief have increased the costs associated with litigating and settling patent infringement claims. In addition, we may be required to indemnify our resellers and users for similar claims made against them. Any claims, whether or not meritorious, could require us to spend significant time, money, and other resources in litigation, pay damages and royalties, develop new intellectual property, modify, design around, or discontinue existing products, services, or features, or acquire licenses to the intellectual property that is the subject of the infringement claims. These licenses, if required, may not be available at all or have acceptable terms. As a result, intellectual property claims against us could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. 
 
The successful operation of our business depends upon the supply of critical business elements and marketing relationships from other companies.
 
We depend upon third parties for critical elements of our business, including technology, infrastructure, customer service and sales and marketing components. We rely on private third-party providers for our internet, telecommunications, website traffic and other connections and for co-location of a significant portion of our servers. In addition, we rely on third-party platforms to facilitate and provide access to products sold through our sites. Any disruption in the services provided by any of these suppliers, any adverse change in access to their platforms or services or in their terms and conditions of use or services, or any failure by them to handle current or higher volumes of activity could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. To obtain new Cloud Services customers, we have marketing agreements with operators of leading search engines and websites and employ the use of resellers to sell our products. These arrangements typically are not exclusive and do not extend over a significant period of time. Failure to continue these relationships on terms that are acceptable to us or to continue to create additional relationships could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

Our success depends on our retention of our executive officers, senior management and our ability to hire and retain key personnel.
 
Our success depends on the skills, experience and performance of executive officers, senior management and other key personnel. The loss of the services of one or more of our executive officers, senior managers or other key employees could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. Our future success also depends on our continuing ability to attract, integrate and retain highly qualified technical, sales and managerial personnel. Competition for these people is intense, and there can be no assurance that we can retain our key employees or that we can attract, assimilate or retain other highly qualified technical, sales and managerial personnel in the future.
 
We are exposed to risk if we cannot maintain or adhere to our internal controls and procedures.
 
We have established and continue to maintain, assess and update our internal controls and procedures regarding our business operations and financial reporting. Our internal controls and procedures are designed to provide reasonable assurances regarding our business operations and financial reporting. However, because of the inherent limitations in this process, internal controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or misstatements. To the extent our internal controls are inadequate or not adhered to by our employees, our business, financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.
 
If we are not able to maintain internal controls and procedures in a timely manner, or without adequate compliance, we may be unable to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud and may be subject to sanctions or investigations by regulatory authorities such as the SEC or NASDAQ. Any such action or restatement of prior-period financial results as a result could harm our business or investors’ confidence in J2 Global, and could cause our stock price to fall.

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Changes in our tax rates, changes in tax treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation, or exposure to additional tax liabilities may adversely impact our financial results.

We are a U.S.-based multinational company subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions, including Ireland, where a number of our subsidiaries are organized. Our provision for income taxes is based on a jurisdictional mix of earnings, statutory tax rates and enacted tax rules, including transfer pricing. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. As a result, our future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation. These changes may adversely impact our effective tax rate and harm our financial position and results of operations.

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Act” or “2017 Tax Act”) and all adjustments to the 2017 estimates were incorporated into our financial results in 2018. There continues to be a risk that states or foreign jurisdictions may amend their tax laws in response to the Tax Act, which could have a material impact on our future results.

We are subject to examination of our income tax returns by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and other domestic and foreign tax authorities. We are currently under audit by the IRS for tax years 2012 through 2016 and the California Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”) for tax years 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. The FTB has agreed to suspend its audit for 2012 and 2013 pending the outcome of the IRS audit for such tax years. However, the FTB has commenced the initial information gathering state of the 2015 and 2016 audit period. We are also under audit or review by other state and foreign taxing authorities for various periods. Our future income tax returns are likely to become the subject of audits by these or other taxing authorities. We regularly assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of our income tax reserves and expense. If our reserves are not sufficient to cover these contingencies, such inadequacy could materially adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.

In addition, due to the global nature of the internet, it is possible that various states or foreign countries might attempt to impose additional or new regulation on our business or levy additional or new sales, income or other taxes relating to our activities. Tax authorities at the international, federal, state and local levels are currently reviewing the appropriate treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce. New or revised international, federal, state or local tax regulations or court decisions may subject us or our customers to additional sales, income and other taxes. For example, Congress is considering various approaches to legislation that would require companies engaged in e-commerce to collect sales taxes on internet revenue and a growing number of U.S. states and certain foreign jurisdictions have adopted or are considering proposals to impose obligations on remote sellers and online marketplaces to collect taxes on their behalf. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., No.17-494 reversed a longstanding precedent that remote sellers are not required to collect state and local sales taxes. We cannot predict the effect of these and other attempts to impose sales, income or other taxes on e-commerce. The application of existing, new or revised taxes on our business, in particular, sales taxes, VAT and similar taxes would likely increase the cost of doing business online and decrease the attractiveness of selling products over the internet. The application of these taxes on our business could also create significant increases in internal costs necessary to capture data and collect and remit taxes. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and operating results.

Moreover, we are currently under audit for indirect taxes in various states, municipalities and foreign jurisdictions. We currently have a $21.2 million reserve established for these matters. If a material indirect tax liability associated with prior periods were to be recorded, for which there is not a reserve, it could materially affect our financial results for the period in which it is recorded.

Furthermore, much of our Digital Media e-commerce revenue comes from arrangements in which we are paid by retailers to promote their digital product and service offers on our sites. Certain states have implemented regulations that require retailers to collect and remit sales taxes on sales made to residents of such states if a publisher, such as us, that facilitated that sale is a resident of such state. Paid retailers in our marketplace that do not currently have sales tax nexus in any state that subsequently passes similar regulations and in which we have operations, employees or contractors now or in the future, may significantly alter the manner in which they pay us, cease paying us for sales we facilitate for that retailer in such state, or cease using our marketplace, each of which could adversely impact our business, financial condition, and operating results.


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Our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial flexibility and our competitive position.

Our level of indebtedness could have significant effects on our business. For example, it could:

make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations, including our current indebtedness and any other indebtedness we may incur in the future;
increase our vulnerability to adverse changes in general economic, industry and competitive conditions;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to make payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other elements of our business strategy and other general corporate purposes, including share repurchases and payment of dividends;
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industries in which we operate;
restrict us from exploiting business opportunities;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness; and
limit our ability to borrow additional funds for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, debt service requirements, execution of our business strategy or other general corporate purposes.

In addition, (i) the indenture governing the 6.0% Senior Notes of our subsidiary, J2 Cloud Services, LLC (“J2 Cloud Services”) and (ii) the Credit Agreement, dated as of January 7, 2019 (as amended, the “MUFG Credit Facility”), by and among J2 Cloud Services, the lenders from time to time party thereto and MUFG Union Bank, N.A., as sole lead arranger and as administrative agent, contain, and the agreements evidencing or governing other future indebtedness may contain, restrictive covenants that may limit our ability to engage in activities that may be in our long-term best interests. Our failure to comply with those covenants could result in an event of default which, if not cured or waived, could result in the acceleration of all of our indebtedness.

The indenture governing the 6.0% Senior Notes and MUFG Credit Facility contain a number of restrictive covenants that impose significant operating and financial restrictions and may limit our ability to plan for or react to market conditions, meet capital needs or make acquisitions, or otherwise restrict our activities or business plans. These include restrictions on our ability to:

incur additional indebtedness;
create liens;
engage in sale-leaseback transactions;
pay dividends or make distributions in respect of capital stock;
purchase or redeem capital stock;
make investments or certain other restricted payments;
sell assets;
enter into transactions with affiliates;
amend the terms of certain other indebtedness and organizational documents; or
effect a consolidation or merger.

A breach of the covenants under the indenture governing the 6.0% Senior Notes or under the MUFG Credit Facility could result in an event of default. Such a default may allow the creditors to accelerate the related indebtedness and may result in the acceleration of any other indebtedness to which a cross-acceleration or cross-default provision applies. In the event our lenders (including under the MUFG Credit Facility) or the holders of our 6.0% Senior Notes accelerate the repayment of our borrowings, we and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient assets to repay that indebtedness or our other indebtedness.
 
To service our debt and fund our other capital requirements, we will require a significant amount of cash, and our ability to generate cash will depend on many factors beyond our control.

Our ability to meet our debt service obligations and to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other elements of our business strategy and other general corporate purposes, including share repurchases and payment of dividends, will depend upon our future performance, which will be subject to financial, business and other factors affecting our operations. To some extent, this is subject to general and regional economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot ensure that we will generate cash flow from operations, or that future borrowings will be available, in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay our debt or to fund our other liquidity needs.

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and could be forced to reduce or delay investments and capital expenditures or to dispose of material assets or

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operations, seek additional indebtedness or equity capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. We may not be able to effect any such alternative measures on commercially reasonable terms or at all and, even if successful, those alternative actions may not allow us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. The indenture governing the 6.0% Senior Notes and the MUFG Credit Facility restrict our ability to dispose of assets and may also restrict our ability to raise indebtedness or equity capital to be used to repay other indebtedness when it becomes due. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions or to obtain proceeds in an amount sufficient to meet any debt service obligations then due.

Our inability to generate sufficient cash flows to satisfy our debt obligations, or to refinance our indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, would materially and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle conversions of the Convertible Notes or to repurchase the Convertible Notes upon a fundamental change or on a repurchase date or the Senior Notes upon a change in control, and our future debt may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion or repurchase of the Convertible Notes or the Senior Notes.

Holders of the 3.25% convertible senior notes due June 15, 2029 (the “3.25% Convertible Notes”) will have the right to require us to repurchase their 3.25% Convertible Notes on each of June 15, 2021 and June 15, 2024 and upon the occurrence of a fundamental change (as defined in the indenture governing the 3.25% Convertible Notes), in each case, at a repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the 3.25% Convertible Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. Holders of the Senior Notes also have the right to require our subsidiary, J2 Cloud Services, to repurchase the Senior Notes upon the occurrence of a change in control (as defined in the indenture governing the Senior Notes) at a repurchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount of the Senior Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. Holders of our 1.75% convertible senior notes due November 1, 2026 (the “1.75% Convertible Notes,” and together with the 3.25% Convertible Notes, the “Convertible Notes”) also will have the right to require us to repurchase their 1.75% Convertible Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change (as defined in the indenture governing the 1.75% Convertible Notes) at a repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the 1.75% Convertible Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. In addition, upon conversion of the Convertible Notes, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the Convertible Notes being converted. It is our intention to satisfy our conversion obligation by paying and delivering a combination of cash and shares of our common stock, where cash will be used to settle each $1,000 of principal and the remainder, if any, will be settled via shares of our common stock. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of Convertible Notes or Senior Notes surrendered therefor or Convertible Notes being converted. In addition, our ability to repurchase the Convertible Notes or Senior Notes or to pay cash upon conversions of the Convertible Notes may be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements governing our future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase Convertible Notes or Senior Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the applicable indenture or to pay any cash payable on future conversions of the Convertible Notes as required by the applicable Convertible Notes indenture would constitute a default under the Convertible Notes indenture. A default under any indenture or the fundamental change or change of control itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the Convertible Notes or the Senior Notes or make cash payments upon conversions of the Convertible Notes.

The conditional conversion feature of the Convertible Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.

In the event the conditional conversion feature of the Convertible Notes is triggered, holders of Convertible Notes will be entitled to convert the Convertible Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their Convertible Notes, unless we elect to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering solely shares of our common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we would be required to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert their Convertible Notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.

The conditional conversion feature of the 3.25% Convertible Notes was triggered for the quarter ended December 31, 2019 and, unless our stock price decreases, it is reasonably likely that it will be triggered in subsequent quarters. If J2 elects to convert all or a portion of the 3.25% Convertible Notes into shares of the Company’s common stock, our common stock will be diluted which could adversely affect our stock price.


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Our interest deductions attributable to the 3.25%Convertible Notes may be deferred, limited or eliminated under certain conditions.

We believe that the 3.25% Convertible Notes are subject to the IRS contingent payment debt instrument regulations. This conclusion is subject to complex factual and legal uncertainty and is not binding on the IRS or the courts. If the IRS takes a contrary position and a court sustains the IRS’ position, our tax deductions would be severely diminished with a resulting adverse effect on our cash flow and ability to service the 3.25% Convertible Notes.

The accounting method for convertible debt securities that may be settled in cash, such as the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes, could have a material effect on our reported financial results.

In May 2008, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”), issued FASB Staff Position No. APB 14-1, Accounting for Convertible Debt Instruments That May Be Settled in Cash Upon Conversion (Including Partial Cash Settlement), which has subsequently been codified as Accounting Standards Codification 470-20, Debt with Conversion and Other Options (“ASC 470-20”). Under ASC 470-20, an entity must separately account for the liability and equity components of the convertible debt instruments (such as the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes) that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion in a manner that reflects the issuer’s economic interest cost. The effect of ASC 470-20 on the accounting for the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes is that the equity component is required to be included in the additional paid-in capital section of stockholders’ equity on our consolidated balance sheet, and the value of the equity component would be treated as an original issue discount for purposes of accounting for the debt component of the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes. As a result, we will be required to record a greater amount of non-cash interest expense in current periods presented as a result of the amortization of the discounted carrying value of the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes to their face amount over the respective terms of the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes. We will report larger net losses or lower net income in our financial results because ASC 470-20 will require interest to include both the current period’s amortization of the debt discount and the instrument’s coupon interest, which could adversely affect our reported or future financial results and the trading price of our common stock and other securities.

In addition, under certain circumstances, convertible debt instruments (such as the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes) that may be settled entirely or partly in cash are currently accounted for utilizing the treasury stock method, the effect of which is that the shares issuable upon conversion of the notes are not included in the calculation of diluted earnings per share except to the extent that the conversion value of the 1.75% Convertible Notes and the 3.25% Convertible Notes exceeds their principal amount. Under the treasury stock method, for diluted earnings per share purposes, the transaction is accounted for as if the number of shares of common stock that would be necessary to settle such excess, if we elected to settle such excess in shares, are issued.

In July 2019, the FASB issued an exposure draft that proposes to change the accounting for the convertible debt instruments described above. Under the current exposure draft, an entity may no longer be required to separately account for the liability and equity components of convertible debt instruments. If the exposure draft is adopted in its current form, this could have the impact of reducing non-cash interest expense, and thereby increasing net income. Additionally, as currently proposed, the treasury stock method for calculating earnings per share will no longer be allowed for convertible debt instruments whose principal amount may be settled using shares. Rather, the if-converted method may be required. Application of the “if-converted” method may reduce our reported diluted earnings per share. The comment period for the current exposure draft concluded in October 2019, and, following deliberations, the FASB reaffirmed the changes described above. As of February 5, 2020, the FASB is drafting the final accounting standards update, which is scheduled to go into effect for us for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021, with option early adoption for fiscal periods beginning after December 15, 2020. We cannot be sure when or if the final accounting standards update will be issued, or whether it will be issued in its current format. We also cannot be sure whether other changes may be made to the current accounting standards related to the 1.75% Convertible Notes or the 3.25% Convertible Notes, or otherwise, that could have an adverse impact on our financial statements.


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The Company is subject to laws and regulations worldwide, changes to which could increase the Company’s costs and individually or in the aggregate adversely affect the Company’s business.

The Company is subject to laws and regulations affecting its domestic and international operations in a number of areas. These U.S. and foreign laws and regulations affect the Company’s activities in areas including, but not limited to, labor, advertising, digital content, consumer protection, real estate, billing, e-commerce, promotions, quality of services, telecommunications, mobile communications and media, television, intellectual property ownership and infringement, tax, import and export requirements, anti-corruption, foreign exchange controls and cash repatriation restrictions, data privacy and data localization requirements, anti-competition, environmental, health and safety. Compliance with these laws, regulations and similar requirements may be onerous and expensive, and they may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, further increasing the cost of compliance and doing business. Any such costs, which may rise in the future as a result of changes in these laws and regulations or in their interpretation, could individually or in the aggregate make the Company’s products and services less attractive to the Company’s customers, delay the introduction of new products in one or more regions, or cause the Company to change or limit its business practices. The Company has implemented policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, but there can be no assurance that the Company’s employees, contractors, or agents will not violate such laws and regulations or the Company’s policies and procedures.

The United Kingdom’s decision to end its membership in the European Union and other adverse changes in global financial markets could materially and adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

In June 2016, a majority of voters in the United Kingdom elected to withdraw from the European Union (“EU”) in a national referendum (“BREXIT”), and on January 31, 2020 the United Kingdom exited the EU. The results of the United Kingdom’s BREXIT have caused, and may continue to cause, volatility in global stock markets, currency exchange rate fluctuations and global economic uncertainty. We are continuing to evaluate the effects of BREXIT, which could potentially disrupt our access to human capital and some of our target markets and jurisdictions in which we operate, and adversely change tax benefits or liabilities in these or other jurisdictions. In addition, BREXIT could lead to legal uncertainty and potentially divergent national laws and regulations. Any of these effects of BREXIT, among others, and other adverse changes in global financial markets could have a materially adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and could render us either unable to access global financial markets or able to access these markets only at higher interest costs and with restrictive financial or other conditions.

Taxing authorities may successfully assert that we should have collected, or in the future should collect sales and use, telecommunications or similar taxes, and we could be subject to liability with respect to past or future tax, which could adversely affect our operating results.

We do not collect and remit sales and use, telecommunications, or similar taxes in all jurisdictions in which we have sales, based on our belief that such taxes are not applicable or legally required. Several states and other taxing jurisdictions have presented or threatened us with assessments, alleging that we are required to collect and remit such taxes there. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., No. 17-494 reversed existing constitutional precedent that remote sellers are not required to collect and remit such taxes. The Company is evaluating the impact of the ruling. The jurisdictions where we have sales may apply more rigorous enforcement efforts or take more aggressive positions in the future that could result in greater tax liability. In addition, in the future we may also decide to engage in activities that would require us to pay sales and use, telecommunications, or similar taxes in new jurisdictions. Such tax assessments, penalties and interest or future requirements may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.



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Risks Related To Our Industries

Our services may become subject to burdensome regulation, which could increase our costs or restrict our service offerings.
 
We believe that most of our cloud services are “information services” under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and related precedent, or, if not “information services,” that we are entitled to other exemptions, meaning that we generally are not currently subject to U.S. telecommunications services regulation at both the federal and state levels. In connection with our Cloud Services business, we utilize data transmissions over public telephone lines and other facilities provided by third-party carriers. These transmissions are subject to foreign and domestic laws and regulation by the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”), state public utility commissions and foreign governmental authorities. These regulations affect the availability of numbers, the prices we pay for transmission services, the administrative costs associated with providing our services, the competition we face from telecommunications service providers and other aspects of our market. However, as messaging and communications services converge and as the services we offer expand, we may become subject to FCC or other regulatory agency regulation. It is also possible that a federal or state regulatory agency could take the position that our offerings, or a subset of our offerings, are properly classified as telecommunications services or otherwise not entitled to certain exemptions upon which we currently rely. Such a finding could potentially subject us to fines, penalties or enforcement actions as well as liabilities for past regulatory fees and charges, retroactive contributions to various telecommunications-related funds, telecommunications-related taxes, penalties and interest. It is also possible that such a finding could subject us to additional regulatory obligations that could potentially require us either to modify our offerings in a costly manner, diminish our ability to retain customers, or discontinue certain offerings, in order to comply with certain regulations. Changes in the regulatory environment could decrease our revenues, increase our costs and restrict our service offerings. In many of our international locations, we are subject to regulation by the applicable governmental authority.
 
In the U.S., Congress, the FCC, and a number of states require regulated telecommunications carriers to contribute to federal and/or state Universal Service Funds (“USF”). Generally, USF is used to subsidize the cost of providing service to low-income customers and those living in high cost or rural areas. Congress, the FCC and a number of states are reviewing the manner in which a provider’s contribution obligation is calculated, as well as the types of entities subject to USF contribution obligations. If any of these reforms are adopted, they could cause us to alter or eliminate our non-paid services and to raise the price of our paid services, which could cause us to lose customers. Any of these results could lead to a decrease in our revenues and net income and could materially adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.
 
 The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the “TCPA”) and FCC rules implementing the TCPA, as amended by the Junk Fax Act, prohibit sending unsolicited facsimile advertisements to telephone fax machines. The FCC, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), or both may initiate enforcement action against companies that send “junk faxes” and individuals also may have a private cause of action. Although entities that merely transmit facsimile messages on behalf of others are not liable for compliance with the prohibition on faxing unsolicited advertisements, the exemption from liability does not apply to fax transmitters that have a high degree of involvement or actual notice of an illegal use and have failed to take steps to prevent such transmissions. We take significant steps to ensure that our services are not used to send unsolicited faxes on a large scale, and we do not believe that we have a high degree of involvement in or notice of the use of our service to broadcast junk faxes. However, because fax transmitters do not enjoy an absolute exemption from liability under the TCPA and related FCC and FTC rules, we could face inquiries from the FCC and FTC or enforcement actions by these agencies, or private causes of action, if someone uses our service for such impermissible purposes. If this were to occur and we were to be held liable for someone’s use of our service for transmitting unsolicited faxes, the financial penalties could cause a material adverse effect on our operations and harm our business reputation.
 
Likewise, the TCPA also prohibits placing calls or sending text messages to mobile phones without “prior express consent” subject to limited exceptions. Parties that solely enable calling or text messaging are only directly liable under the TCPA pursuant to federal common law vicarious liability principles. We take significant steps to ensure that users understand that they are responsible for how they use our technology including complying with relevant federal and state law. However, because we do not enjoy absolute exemption from liability under the TCPA and related FCC and FTC rules, we could face inquiries from the FCC and FTC or enforcement actions by these agencies, or private causes of action, if someone uses our service for such impermissible purposes. If this were to occur and we were to be held liable for someone’s use of our service for unauthorized calling or text messaging mobile users, the financial penalties could cause a material adverse effect on our operations and harm our business reputation.


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Also, in the U.S., the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (“CALEA”) requires telecommunications carriers to be capable of performing wiretaps and recording other call identifying information. In September 2005, the FCC released an order defining telecommunications carriers that are subject to CALEA obligations as facilities-based broadband internet access providers and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (“VoIP”) providers that interconnect with the public switched telephone network. As a result of this definition, we do not believe that J2 Global is subject to CALEA. However, if the category of service providers to which CALEA applies broadens to also include information services, that change may impact our operations.

We are subject to a variety of new and existing laws and regulations which could subject us to claims, judgments, monetary liabilities and other remedies, and to limitations on our business practices.

The application of existing domestic and international laws and regulations to us relating to issues such as defamation, pricing, advertising, taxation, promotions, billing, consumer protection, accessibility, content regulation, data privacy, intellectual property ownership and infringement, and accreditation in many instances is unclear or unsettled. In addition, we will also be subject to any new laws and regulations directly applicable to our domestic and international activities. Further, the application of existing laws to us or our subsidiaries regulating or requiring licenses for certain businesses of our advertisers including, for example, distribution of pharmaceuticals, alcohol or other regulated substances, adult content, tobacco, or firearms, as well as insurance and securities brokerage, and legal services, can be unclear. Internationally, we may also be subject to laws regulating our activities in foreign countries and to foreign laws and regulations that are inconsistent from country to country. Our Digital Media and Cloud Services businesses utilize contractors, freelancers and/or staff from third party outsourcers to provide content and other services. However, in the future, arrangements with such individuals may not be deemed appropriate by the relevant government authority, which could result in additional costs and expenses. We may incur substantial liabilities for expenses necessary to defend such litigation or to comply with these laws and regulations, as well as potential substantial penalties for any failure to comply. Compliance with these laws and regulations may also cause us to change or limit our business practices in a manner adverse to our business.

The use of consumer data by online service providers and advertising networks is a topic of active interest among federal, state, and international regulatory bodies, and the regulatory environment is unsettled and evolving. Federal, state, and international laws and regulations govern the collection, use, retention, disclosure, sharing, and security of data that we receive from and about our users. Our privacy and cookie policies and practices concerning the collection, use, and disclosure of user data are posted on our websites.

A number of U.S. federal laws, including those referenced below, impact our business. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) is intended, in part, to limit the liability of eligible online service providers for listing or linking to third-party websites that include materials that infringe copyrights or other rights of others. Portions of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) are intended to provide statutory protections to online service providers who distribute third-party content. We rely on the protections provided by both the DMCA and the CDA in conducting our business. If these or other laws or judicial interpretations are changed to narrow their protections, or if international jurisdictions refuse to apply similar provisions in foreign lawsuits, we will be subject to greater risk of liability, our costs of compliance with these regulations or to defend litigation may increase, or our ability to operate certain lines of business may be limited. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) is intended to impose restrictions on the ability of online services to collect some types of information from children under the age of 13. In addition, the Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2008 (“PROTECT Act”) requires online service providers to report evidence of violations of federal child pornography laws under certain circumstances, as well as other federal, state or international laws and legislative efforts designed to protect children on the internet may impose additional requirements on us. U.S. export control laws and regulations impose requirements and restrictions on exports to certain nations and persons and on our business.

In certain instances, we may be subject to enhanced privacy obligations based on the type of information we store and process. While we believe we are in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations, we could be subject to enforcement actions, fines, forfeitures, and other adverse actions.

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (the “CAN-SPAM Act”), which allows for penalties that run into the millions of dollars, requires commercial emails to include identifying information from the sender and a mechanism for the receiver to opt out of receiving future emails. Several states have enacted additional, more restrictive and punitive laws regulating commercial email. Foreign legislation exists as well, including Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and the European laws that have been enacted pursuant to the GDPR and European Union Directive 2002/58/EC and its amendments. We use email as a significant means of communicating with our existing and potential users. We believe that our email practices comply with the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act, state laws, and applicable foreign legislation. If we were ever found to be in violation of these laws and regulations, or any other laws or regulations, our business, financial condition, operating results, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

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Many third-parties are examining whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) concept of public accommodation also extends to websites and to mobile applications. Generally, some plaintiffs have argued that websites and mobile applications are places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA and, as such, must be equipped so that individuals with disabilities can navigate and make use of subject websites and mobile applications. The issue is currently under litigation and there is a split in the federal court of appeals circuits as to what the ADA requires. Certain appellate circuits have found that websites standing alone are subject to the ADA and therefore must be accessible to people with disabilities. Other circuits, including the Ninth Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over federal district courts in California and is where our company is headquartered, have found that in order for websites to be places of public accommodation, and therefore subject to the ADA, there must be both a nexus between the website and the goods and services the website provides as well as a physical brick and mortar location for consumers. We cannot predict how the ADA will ultimately be interpreted as applied to websites and mobile applications.

We believe we are in compliance with relevant law. If the law changes or if certain courts with appellate jurisdiction outside of California attempt to exercise jurisdiction over us and find that our website and mobile applications must comply with the ADA, then any adjustments or requirements to implement any changes prescribed by the ADA could result in increased costs to our business, we may become subject to injunctive relief, plaintiffs may be able to recover attorneys’ fees, and it is possible that, while the ADA does not provide for monetary damages, we become subject to such damages through state consumer protection or other laws. It is possible that these potential liabilities could cause a material adverse effect on our operations and harm our business reputation.

Native advertising is an increasing part of our Digital Media business’s online advertising revenue. On December 22, 2015, the FTC issued Guidelines and an Enforcement Policy Statement on native advertising, described by the FTC as, in part, ads which often “resemble the design, style, and functionality of the media in which they are disseminated.” The Company believes it is compliant with the requirements of these guidelines on our current practices and offerings. However, we will continue to monitor what effect this guideline and other related government regulations, and how the FTC enforces it, could have on our native advertising and branded content business. In addition, the timing and extent of any enforcement by the FTC with regard to the native advertising practices by the Company, or others, could reduce the revenue we generate from this line of business.

As of May 25, 2018, certain data transfers from and between the European Union (“EU”) are subject to the GDPR. As discussed in more detail below, the GDPR prohibits data transfers from the EU to other countries outside of the EU, including the U.S., without appropriate security safeguards and practices in place. Previously, for certain data transfers from and between the EU and the U.S., J2 Global, like many other companies, had relied on what is referred to as the “EU-U.S. Safe Harbor,” in order to comply with privacy obligations imposed by EU countries. The European Court of Justice invalidated the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor. Although U.S. and EU policymakers approved a new framework known as “Privacy Shield” that would allow companies like us to continue to rely on some form of a safe harbor for the transfer of certain data from the EU to the U.S., the Privacy Shield may not be adequate for all data transfers between the EU and U.S. It is also unclear whether the United Kingdom (“UK”) will offer a similar program to Privacy Shield now that the UK has left the EU. Additionally, other countries that relied on the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor that were not part of the EU have also found that data transfers to the U.S. are no longer valid based on the European Court of Justice ruling. We cannot predict how or if this issue will be resolved nor can we evaluate any potential liability at this time.

The Company has put into place various alternative frameworks and grounds on which to rely in order to be in compliance with relevant law for the transfer of data from overseas locations to the U.S. including reviewing Company’s data collection process, procedures and putting into place Data Processing Agreements with vendors, partners and other third parties. Some independent data regulators have adopted the position that other forms of compliance are also invalid though the legal grounds for these findings remain unclear at this time. We cannot predict at this time whether the alternative grounds that J2 Global continues to implement will be found to be consistent with relevant laws nor can we evaluate what, if any, potential liability may be at this time.

On June 28, 2018, the California legislature enacted the CCPA, which took effect on January 1, 2020 and will be enforceable starting July 1, 2020. The CCPA, which covers business that obtain or access personal information on California resident consumers, grants consumers enhanced privacy rights and control over their personal information and imposes significant requirements on covered companies with respect to consumer data privacy rights. The CCPA provides consumers with the right to opt out of the sale of their personal information including the requirement to include a “Do Not Sell” link on our websites and applications that sell personal data of California resident consumers. Based on the draft implementation regulations released by the California Attorney General in October 2019, we believe we have implemented such links where necessary and our privacy policies have been updated and posted on our websites. There is currently no industry consensus on the applicability of the CCPA “Do Not Sell” right on the targeted advertising activities of our Digital Media business. Until the California Attorney General provides final implementing regulations, we cannot predict the impact to our Digital Media business, if any. Other states are proposing similar

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privacy laws and if those are passed, our Company may be subject to additional requirements and restrictions that could have an impact on our business.

Further, failure or perceived failure by us to comply with our policies, applicable requirements, or industry self-regulatory principles related to the collection, use, sharing, or security of personal information, or other privacy, data-retention or data­ protection matters could result in a loss of user confidence in us, damage to our brands, and ultimately in a loss of users and advertising partners, which could adversely affect our business. Changes in these or any other laws and regulations or the interpretation of them could increase our future compliance costs, limit the amount and type of data we can collect, transfer, share, or sell, make our products and services less attractive to our users, or cause us to change or limit our business practices. Further, any failure on our part to comply with any relevant laws or regulations may subject us to significant civil or criminal liabilities.

Moreover, our Everyday Health Group business may be subject to government oversight or regulation by Congress, the FDA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state legislatures and regulatory agencies. In addition, certain services provided by Everyday Health Group constituent businesses are also subject to private regulation both directly by accrediting bodies and indirectly by industry codes followed by commercial supporters of CME and CE programs.
If we are subject to burdensome laws or regulations or if we fail to adhere to the requirements of public or private regulations, our business, financial condition and results of operations could suffer.
If we are unable to continue to attract visitors to our websites from search engines, then consumer traffic to our websites could decrease, which could negatively impact the sales of our products and services, our advertising revenue and the number of purchases generated for our retailers through our Digital Media marketplace.
We generate consumer traffic to our websites using various methods, including search engine marketing, or SEM, search engine optimization, or SEO, email campaigns and social media referrals. Our net revenues and profitability levels are dependent upon our continued ability to use a combination of these methods to generate consumer traffic to our websites in a cost-efficient manner. We have experienced and continue to experience fluctuations in search result rankings for a number of our websites. There can be no assurances that we will be able to grow or maintain current levels of consumer traffic.
Our SEM and SEO techniques have been developed to work with existing search algorithms utilized by the major search engines. Major search engines frequently modify their search algorithms. Changes in these algorithms could cause our websites to receive less favorable placements, which could reduce the number of users who visit our websites. In addition, we use keyword advertising to improve our search ranking and to attract users to our sites. If we fail to follow legal requirements regarding the use of keywords or search engine guidelines and policies properly, search engines may rank our content lower in search results or could remove our content altogether from their indices.
Any decline in consumer traffic to our websites could adversely impact the amount of ads that are displayed and the number of purchases we generate for our retailers, which could adversely affect our net revenues. An attempt to replace this traffic through other channels may require us to increase our sales and marketing expenditures, which would adversely affect our operating results and which may not be offset by additional net revenues.

Government and private actions or self-regulatory developments regarding internet privacy matters could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.

Our Digital Media business collects and sells data about its users’ online behavior and the revenue associated with this activity could be impacted by government regulation and enforcement, industry trends, self-regulation, technology changes, consumer behavior and attitude, and private action. We also use such information to work with our advertisers to more effectively target ads to relevant users and consumers, which ads command a higher rate.

Many of our users voluntarily provide us with demographic and other information when they register for one of our service or properties. In order for our Everyday Health Group brands to deliver marketing and communications solutions to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, health insurers, hospital systems, and other customers, we rely on data provided by our users. We also purchase data from third-party sources to augment our user profiles and marketing databases so we are better able to personalize content, enhance our analytical capabilities and better target our marketing programs. If changes in user sentiment regarding the sharing of information results in a significant number of visitors to our websites and applications refusing to provide us with information such as demographic information, information about their specific health interests, or profession information, our ability to personalize content for our users and provide targeted marketing solutions would be impaired. If our users choose to opt-out of having their data used for behavioral targeting, it would be more difficult for us to offer targeted marketing programs to our customers.

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We append data from third-party sources to augment our user profiles. If we are unable to acquire data from third-party sources for whatever reason, or if there is a marked increase in the cost of obtaining such data, our ability to personalize content and provide marketing solutions could be negatively impacted.

The use of such consumer data by online service providers and advertising networks is a topic of active interest among federal, state, and international regulatory bodies, and the regulatory environment is unsettled. Federal, state, and international laws and regulations govern the collection, use, retention, disclosure, sharing and security of data that we receive from and about our users. Our privacy policies and practices concerning the collection, use, and disclosure of user data are posted on our websites.

New and expanding “Do Not Track” regulations have recently been enacted or proposed that protect users’ right to choose whether or not to be tracked online. These regulations seek, among other things, to allow consumers to have greater control over the use of private information collected online, to forbid the collection or use of online information, to demand a business to comply with their choice to opt out of such collection or use, and to place limits upon the disclosure of information to third party websites. Similarly, exercise of the “Do Not Sell” right under the CCPA limits a business’ ability to monetize certain personal information collected online. These laws and regulations could have a significant impact on the operation of our advertising and data businesses. U.S. regulatory agencies have also placed an increased focus on online privacy matters and, in particular, on online advertising activities that utilizes cookies or other tracking tools. Consumer and industry groups have expressed concerns about online data collection and use by companies, which has resulted in the release of various industry self-regulatory codes of conduct and best practice guidelines that are binding for member companies and that govern, among other things, the ways in which companies can collect, use and disclose user information, how companies must give notice of these practices and what choices companies must provide to consumers regarding these practices.

We may be required or otherwise choose to adopt Do Not Track mechanisms or self-regulation principles, or provide opt-outs from the sale of certain user data, in which case our ability to use our existing tracking technologies, to collect and sell user behavioral data, and permit their use by other third parties could be impaired. This could cause our net revenues to decline and adversely affect our operating results.

U.S. and foreign governments have enacted or considered or are considering legislation or regulations that could significantly restrict our ability to collect, augment, analyze, use and share anonymous data, which could increase our costs and reduce our revenue.  

We operate across many different markets both domestically and internationally which may subject us to cybersecurity, privacy, data security and data protection laws with uncertain interpretations as well as impose conflicting obligations on us.

Cybersecurity, privacy, data security, and data protection laws are constantly evolving at the federal and state levels in the United States, as well as abroad. We are currently subject to such laws both at the federal and state levels in the U.S. as well as similar laws in a variety of international jurisdictions. The interpretation of these laws may be uncertain and may also impose confliction obligations on us. While we work to comply with all applicable law and relevant “best practices” addressing cybersecurity, privacy, data security and data protection, this is an area of the law that is constantly evolving as are the relevant industry codes and threat matrix. Further it is possible that applicable law and “best practices” are interpreted in an inconsistent or conflicting manner either by differing federal, state or international authorities or across the jurisdictions in which we operate. Any failure or perceived failure by us, our partners, our vendors, or third parties on which we rely could result in a significant liability to us (including in the form of judicial decisions and/or settlements, regulatory findings and/or forfeitures, and other means), cause considerable harm to us and our reputation (including requiring notification to customers, regulators, and/or the media), cause a loss of confidence in our products and services, and deter current and potential customers from using our services. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.


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The GDPR imposes significant compliance costs and exposes the Company to substantial risks.

The EU has traditionally imposed more strict obligations under data privacy laws and regulations. Individual EU member countries have had discretion with respect to their interpretation and implementation of EU data privacy laws, resulting in a variation of privacy standards from country to country. The GDPR harmonizes EU data privacy laws and contains significant obligations and requirements that have resulted in a greater compliance burden with respect to our operations and data use in Europe, which will continue to increase our costs. Additionally, government authorities will have more power to enforce compliance and impose substantial penalties for any failure to comply. In addition, individuals have the right to compensation under the GDPR. In the event the Company fails to maintain compliance, the Company could be exposed to material damages, costs and/or fines if an EU government authority or EU resident commenced an action. Failure to comply or maintain compliance could cause considerable harm to us and our reputation (including requiring notification to customers, regulators, and/or the media), cause a loss of confidence in our products and services, and deter current and potential customers from using our services. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

We face potential liability related to the privacy and security of health-related information we collect from, or on behalf of, our consumers and customers.
 
The privacy and security of information about the physical or mental health or condition of an individual is an area of significant focus in the U.S. because of heightened privacy concerns and the potential for significant consumer harm from the misuse of such sensitive data. We have procedures and technology in place intended to safeguard the information we receive from customers and users of our services from unauthorized access or use.
 
The Privacy Standards and Security Standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) establish a set of basic national privacy and security standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information by health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and certain healthcare providers, referred to as “covered entities”, and the business associates with whom such covered entities contract for services. Notably, whereas HIPAA previously directly regulated only these covered entities, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (“HITECH”) makes certain of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Standards directly applicable to covered entities’ business associates. As a result, business associates are now subject to significant civil and criminal penalties for failure to comply with applicable Privacy and Security Standards. Additionally, certain states have adopted comparable privacy and security laws and regulations, some of which may be more stringent than HIPAA.
 
HIPAA directly applies to covered entities such as hospital clients of certain of our subsidiaries. Since these clients disclose protected health information to our subsidiaries so that those subsidiaries can provide certain services to them, those subsidiaries are business associates of those clients. In addition, we may sign business associate agreements in connection with the provision of the products and services developed for other third parties or in connection with certain of our other services that may transmit or store protected health information.
 
Failure to comply with the requirements of HIPAA or HITECH or any of the applicable federal and state laws regarding patient privacy, identity theft prevention and detection, breach notification and data security may subject us to penalties, including civil monetary penalties and, in some circumstances, criminal penalties or contractual liability under agreements with our customers and clients. Any failure or perception of failure of our products or services to meet HIPAA, HITECH and related regulatory requirements could expose us to risks of investigation, notification, litigation, penalty or enforcement, adversely affect demand for our products and services and force us to expend significant capital and other resources to modify our products or services to address the privacy and security requirements of our clients and HIPAA and HITECH.
 
Developments in the healthcare industry could adversely affect our business.
 
A significant portion of Everyday Health Group’s advertising and sponsorship revenues is derived from the healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical, medical device, over-the-counter and consumer-packaged-goods companies, and could be affected by changes affecting healthcare spending. Industry changes affecting healthcare spending could impact the market for these offerings. General reductions in expenditures by healthcare industry participants could result from, among other things:
 
government regulation or private initiatives that affect the manner in which healthcare industry participants interact with consumers and the general public;
consolidation of healthcare industry participants;
reductions in governmental funding for healthcare; and
adverse changes in business or economic conditions affecting pharmaceutical and medical device companies or other healthcare industry participants.

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Even if general expenditures by industry participants remain the same or increase, developments in the healthcare industry may result in reduced spending in some or all of the specific market segments that we serve now or in the future. For example, use of our content offerings and the sale of our products and services could be affected by:
 
changes in the design and provision of health insurance plans;
a decrease in the number of new drugs or pharmaceutical and medical device products coming to market; and
decreases in marketing expenditures by pharmaceutical or medical device companies as a result of governmental regulation or private initiatives that discourage or prohibit advertising or sponsorship activities by pharmaceutical or medical device companies.
 
The healthcare industry has changed significantly in recent years, and we expect that significant changes to the healthcare industry will continue to occur. However, the timing and impact of developments in the healthcare industry are difficult to predict. We cannot assure you that the demand for our offerings will continue to exist at current levels or that we will have adequate technical, financial and marketing resources to react to changes in the healthcare industry.
 
Government regulation of healthcare creates risks and challenges with respect to our compliance efforts and our business strategies with our Everyday Health Group set of brands.
 
The healthcare industry is highly regulated and subject to changing political, legislative, regulatory and other influences. Existing and future laws and regulations affecting the healthcare industry could create unexpected liabilities for us, cause us to incur additional costs and restrict our operations. Many healthcare laws are complex, and their application may not be clear. Our failure to accurately anticipate the application of these laws and regulations, or other failure to comply with such laws and regulations, could create liability for us. Even in areas where we are not subject to healthcare regulation directly, we may become involved in governmental actions or investigations through our relationships with customers that are regulated, and participation in such actions or investigations, even if we are not a party and not the subject of an investigation, may cause us to incur significant expenses. Additionally, government actions, investigations, or pronouncements, or a change in self-regulatory organization rules or healthcare industry norms might impact healthcare industry customer views of risks associated with purchasing our services and result in a reduction in their expenditures.
 
For example, there are federal and state laws that govern patient referrals, physician financial relationships and inducements to healthcare providers and patients. The federal healthcare programs’ anti-kickback provisions prohibit any person or entity from willingly offering, paying, soliciting or receiving anything of value, directly or indirectly, to induce or reward, or in return for either the referral of patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs or the leasing, purchasing, ordering or arranging for or recommending the lease, purchase or order of any item, good, facility or service covered by these programs. Many states also have similar anti-kickback laws that are not necessarily limited to items or services for which payment is made by a federal healthcare program. Our sale of advertising and sponsorships to healthcare providers implicates these laws. However, we review our practices to ensure that we comply with all applicable laws. The laws in this area are broad and we cannot determine precisely how they will be applied to our business practices. Any determination by a state or federal regulatory agency that any of our practices violate any of these laws could subject us to liability and require us to change or terminate some portions of our business.
 
Further, we derive revenues from the sale of advertising and promotion of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical devices. If the FDA or the FTC finds that any of the information provided on our properties violates FDA or FTC regulations, they may take regulatory or judicial action against us and/or the advertiser of that information. State attorneys general may also take similar action based on their state’s consumer protection statutes. Any increase or change in regulation of advertising and promotion in the healthcare industry could make it more difficult for us to generate and grow our advertising and sponsorship revenues.

In addition, the practice of most healthcare professions requires licensing under applicable state law and state laws may further prohibit business entities from practicing medicine, which is referred to as the prohibition against the corporate practice of medicine. Similar state prohibitions may exist with respect to other licensed professions. We believe that we do not engage in the practice of medicine or any other licensed healthcare profession, or provide, through our properties, professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or other advice that is tailored in such a way as to implicate state licensing or professional practice laws. However, a state may determine that some portion of our business violates these laws and may seek to have us discontinue those portions or subject us to penalties or licensure requirements. Any determination that we are a healthcare provider and acted improperly as a healthcare provider may result in liability to us.


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Our business could suffer if providers of broadband internet access services block, impair or degrade our services.
 
Our business is dependent on the ability of our cloud services customers and visitors to our digital media properties to access our services and applications over broadband internet connections. Internet access providers and internet backbone providers may be able to block, degrade or charge for access or bandwidth use of certain of our products and services, which could lead to additional expenses and the loss of users. Our products and services depend on the ability of our users to access the internet. Use of our services and applications through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, must have a high-speed data connection. Broadband internet access services, whether wireless or landline, are provided by companies with significant market power. Many of these providers offer products and services that directly compete with ours.

On January 4, 2018, the FCC released an order that largely repeals rules that the FCC had in place which prevented broadband internet access providers from degrading or otherwise disrupting a broad range of services provisioned over consumers’ and enterprises’ broadband internet access lines. The FCC’s January 4, 2018 Order is not yet effective and there are efforts in Congress to prevent the Order from becoming effective. Additionally, a number of state attorneys general have filed an appeal of the FCC’s January 4, 2018 Order and others may also appeal the Order. A number of states have either passed legislation, adopted state executive agency policies or are in the process of adopting legislation that would prevent broadband internet access providers from blocking, degrading and otherwise impairing consumers’ and internet applications service providers’ broadband internet access services. We cannot predict whether the FCC’s January 4, 2018 Order will become effective, whether it will withstand appeal, or whether states have the authority to adopt legislation and executive policies that may conflict with the FCC’s January 4, 2018 Order.

Many of the largest providers of broadband services have publicly stated that they will not degrade or disrupt their customers’ use of applications and services, like ours. If such providers were to degrade, impair or block our services, it would negatively impact our ability to provide services to our customers and likely result in lost revenue and profits, and we would incur legal fees in attempting to restore our customers’ access to our services. Broadband internet access providers may also attempt to charge us or our customers additional fees to access services like ours that may result in the loss of customers and revenue, decreased profitability, or increased costs to our retail offerings that may make our services less competitive. We cannot predict the potential impact of the FCC’s January 4, 2018 Order on us at this time nor can we evaluate the potential impact at this time.
  
Our business could suffer if we cannot obtain or retain numbers, are prohibited from obtaining local numbers or are limited to distributing local numbers to only certain customers.
 
The future success of our number-based cloud services business depends on our ability to procure large quantities of local numbers in the U.S. and foreign countries in desirable locations at a reasonable cost and offer our services to our prospective customers without restrictions. Our ability to procure and distribute numbers depends on factors such as applicable regulations, the practices of telecommunications carriers that provide numbers, the cost of these numbers and the level of demand for new numbers. For example, several years ago the FCC conditionally granted petitions by Connecticut and California to adopt specialized “unified messaging” area codes, but neither state has adopted such a code. Adoption of a specialized area code within a state or nation could harm our ability to compete in that state or nation if it materially affects our ability to acquire numbers for our operations or makes our services less attractive due to the unavailability of numbers with a local geographic area.
 
In addition, although we are the customer of record for all of our U.S. numbers, from time to time, certain U.S. telephone carriers inhibit our ability to port numbers or port our numbers away from us to other carriers. If a federal or regulatory agency determines that our customers should have the ability to port numbers without our consent, we may lose customers at a faster rate than what we have experienced historically, potentially resulting in lower revenues. Also, in some foreign jurisdictions, under certain circumstances, our customers are permitted to port their numbers to another carrier. These factors could lead to increased cancellations by our Cloud Services customers and loss of our number inventory. These factors may have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and growth in or entry into foreign or domestic markets.
 
In addition, future growth in our number-based cloud services subscriber base, together with growth in the subscriber bases of other providers of number-based services, has increased and may continue to increase the demand for large quantities of numbers, which could lead to insufficient capacity and our inability to acquire sufficient numbers to accommodate our future growth.
 

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We may be subject to increased rates for the telecommunications services we purchase from regulated carriers which could require us to either raise the retail prices of our offerings and lose customers or reduce our profit margins.
 
The FCC adopted wide-ranging reforms to the system under which regulated providers of telecommunications services compensate each other for the exchange of various kinds of traffic. While we are not a provider of regulated telecommunications services, we rely on such providers to offer our cloud services to our customers. As a result of the FCC’s reforms, regulated providers of telecommunications services are determining how the rates they charge customers like us will change in order to comply with the new rules. It is possible that some or all of our underlying carriers will increase the rates we pay for certain telecommunications services. Should this occur, the costs we incur to provide number-based cloud services may increase which may require us to increase the retail price of our services. Increased prices could, in turn, cause us to lose customers, or, if we do not pass on such higher costs to our subscribers, our profit margins may decrease.
New technologies have been developed that are able to block certain of our advertisements or impair our ability to serve interest-based advertising which could harm our operating results.
Technologies have been developed and are likely to continue to be developed that can block internet or mobile display advertising. Most of our Digital Media business revenues are derived from fees paid by advertisers in connection with the display of advertisements or clicks on advertisements on web pages or mobile devices. As a result, such technologies and tools are reducing the number of display advertisements that we are able to deliver or our ability to serve our interest-based advertising and this, in turn, could reduce our advertising revenue and operating results. Adoption of these types of technologies by more of our users could have a material impact on our revenues. We have implemented third party products to combat these ad-blocking technologies and are developing other strategies to address advertisement blocking. However, our efforts may not be successful to offset the potential increasing impact of these advertising blocking products.
If we or our third-party service providers fail to prevent click fraud or choose to manage traffic quality in a way that advertisers find unsatisfactory, our profitability may decline.
A portion of our display revenue comes from advertisers that pay for advertising on a price-per-click basis, meaning that the advertisers pay a fee every time a user clicks on their advertising. This pricing model can be vulnerable to so-called “click fraud,” which occurs when clicks are submitted on ads by a user who is motivated by reasons other than genuine interest in the subject of the ad. We or our third-party service providers may be exposed to the risk of click fraud or other clicks or conversions that advertisers may perceive as undesirable. If fraudulent or other malicious activity is perpetrated by others and we or our third-party service providers are unable to detect and prevent it, or choose to manage traffic quality in a way that advertisers find unsatisfactory, the affected advertisers may experience or perceive a reduced return on their investment in our advertising programs which could lead the advertisers to become dissatisfied with our advertising programs and they might refuse to pay, demand refunds, or withdraw future business. Undetected click fraud could damage our brands and lead to a loss of advertisers and revenue.
The industries in which we operate are undergoing rapid technological changes and we may not be able to keep up.
 
The industries in which we operate are subject to rapid and significant technological change. We cannot predict the effect of technological changes on our business. We expect that new services and technologies will emerge in the markets in which we compete. These new services and technologies may be superior to the services and technologies that we use or these new services may render our services and technologies obsolete. Our future success will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate and adapt to technological changes and evolving industry standards. We may be unable to obtain access to new technologies on acceptable terms or at all, and may therefore be unable to offer services in a competitive manner. Any of the foregoing risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

Risks Related To Our Stock

The fundamental change purchase features of the Convertible Notes and the change of control features of the Senior Notes may delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial attempt to take over our company.

The terms of the Convertible Notes require us to offer to purchase the Convertible Notes for cash in the event of a fundamental change (as defined in the indenture governing the 3.25% Convertible Notes and the indenture governing the 1.75% Convertible Notes), and the terms of the Senior Notes require our subsidiary, J2 Cloud Services, to offer to repurchase the Senior Notes for cash in the event of a change of control (as defined in the indenture governing the Senior Notes). These features may have the effect of delaying or preventing a takeover of our company that would otherwise be beneficial to investors.


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Conversions of the Convertible Notes will dilute the ownership interest of our existing stockholders, including holders who had previously converted their Convertible Notes.

The conversion of some or all of the Convertible Notes will dilute the ownership interests of our existing stockholders. Any sales in the public market of our common stock issuable upon such conversion could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock. In addition, the existence of the Convertible Notes may encourage short selling by market participants because the conversion of the Convertible Notes could depress the price of our common stock.

We are a holding company and our operations are conducted through, and substantially all of our consolidated assets are held by, our subsidiaries, which are subject to certain restrictions on their ability to pay dividends to us to fund dividends on our stock, pay interest on the Convertible Notes and fund other holding company expenses.

We are a holding company. We conduct substantially all of our operations through our subsidiaries. A substantial portion of our consolidated assets is held by our subsidiaries. Accordingly, our ability to pay dividends on our stock, service our debt, including the Convertible Notes and fund other holding company expenses depends on the results of operations of our subsidiaries and upon the ability of such subsidiaries to provide us with cash, whether in the form of dividends, loans or otherwise.

In addition, dividends, loans or other distributions to us from such subsidiaries are subject to contractual and other restrictions and are subject to other business considerations. J2 Cloud Services, is subject to restrictions on dividends in its existing indenture with respect to the Senior Notes and in the MUFG Credit Facility. The Senior Notes indenture generally prohibits dividends except out of a basket of 50% of cumulative net income (as defined in the Senior Notes indenture) and proceeds from equity offerings, although it permits any dividends if J2 Cloud Services’ pro forma leverage ratio (as calculated as required by the Senior Notes indenture) is less than 3.0 to 1. The MUFG Credit Facility generally prohibits dividends (as long as commitments from the lenders or amounts remain outstanding thereunder), except when certain conditions are met, including conditions relating to J2 Cloud Services’ total leverage ratio and EBITDA and the condition that J2 Cloud Services must have at least $25 million in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet after giving effect to such dividend. While J2 Cloud Services is currently in compliance with such covenants, its ability to comply with such covenants is subject to conditions outside its control. If we cannot obtain cash from our subsidiaries, we may not be able to pay dividends on our stock, pay interest on the Convertible Notes and fund other operating company expenses without additional sources of cash.

Future sales of our common stock may negatively affect our stock price.
 
As of February 25, 2020, substantially all of our outstanding shares of common stock were available for resale, subject to volume and manner of sale limitations applicable to affiliates under SEC Rule 144. Sales of a substantial number of shares of common stock in the public market or the perception of such sales could cause the market price of our common stock to decline. These sales also might make it more difficult for us to issue equity securities in the future at a price that we think is appropriate, or at all.
 
Anti-takeover provisions could negatively impact our stockholders.
 
Provisions of Delaware law and of our certificate of incorporation and bylaws could make it more difficult for a third-party to acquire control of us. For example, we are subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which would make it more difficult for another party to acquire us without the approval of our Board of Directors. Additionally, our certificate of incorporation authorizes our Board of Directors to issue preferred stock without requiring any stockholder approval, and preferred stock could be issued as a defensive measure in response to a takeover proposal. These provisions could make it more difficult for a third-party to acquire us even if an acquisition might be in the best interest of our stockholders.


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Our stock price may be volatile or may decline.

Our stock price and trading volumes have been volatile and we expect that this volatility will continue in the future due to factors, such as:

Assessments of the size of our subscriber base and our average revenue per subscriber, and comparisons of our results in these and other areas versus prior performance and that of our competitors;
Variations between our actual results and investor expectations;
Regulatory or competitive developments affecting our markets;
Investor perceptions of us and comparable public companies;
Conditions and trends in the communications, messaging and internet-related industries;
Announcements of technological innovations and acquisitions;
Introduction of new services by us or our competitors;
Developments with respect to intellectual property rights;
Conditions and trends in the internet and other technology industries;
Rumors, gossip or speculation published on public chat or bulletin boards;
General market conditions;
Geopolitical events such as war, threat of war or terrorist actions; and
Global health pandemics.

In addition, the stock market has from time to time experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market prices for the common stocks of technology and other companies, particularly communications and internet companies. These broad market fluctuations have previously resulted in a material decline in the market price of our common stock. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a particular company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been brought against that company. We may become involved in this type of litigation in the future. Litigation is often expensive and diverts management’s attention and resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2. Properties

As of December 31, 2019, we leased approximately 43,000 square feet of office space for our global headquarters in Los Angeles, California under a lease that expired on January 31, 2020. In April 2019, the Cloud Services business entered into a new lease and has relocated our global headquarters where we occupy approximately 48,000 square feet of office space beginning late January 2020. The Digital Media business is headquartered in New York City, where it leases approximately 39,000 square feet of office space pursuant to a lease that extends through April 2024. Digital Media’s Everyday Health division occupies 80,000 square feet of office space pursuant to a lease that extends through October 2023. Additionally, we have smaller leased offices throughout Asia, North America, Europe and Australia.

All of our network equipment is housed either at our leased properties or at one of our multiple co-location facilities around the world. We believe our current facilities are generally in good operating condition and are sufficient to meet our needs for the foreseeable future.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

From time to time, J2 Global and its affiliates are involved in litigation and other legal disputes or regulatory inquiries that arise in the ordinary course of business. Any claims or regulatory actions against J2 Global and its affiliates, whether meritorious or not, could be time consuming and costly, and could divert significant operational resources. The outcomes of such matters are subject to inherent uncertainties, carrying the potential for unfavorable rulings that could include monetary damages and injunctive relief.

On February 17, 2011, Emmanuel Pantelakis (“Pantelakis”) filed suit against a J2 Global affiliate in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (No. 11-50673), alleging that the J2 Global affiliate breached a contract relating to Pantelakis’s use of the Campaigner service. The J2 Global affiliate filed a responsive pleading on March 23, 2011 and responses to undertakings on July 16, 2012. On November 6, 2012, Pantelakis filed a second amended statement of claim, reframing his lawsuit as a negligence

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action. The J2 Global affiliate filed an amended statement of defense on April 8, 2013. Discovery has closed, with the exception of one issue. There is an anticipated trial date of February 2021.

On January 21, 2016, Davis Neurology, P.A. filed a putative class action against two J2 Global affiliates in the Circuit Court for the County of Pope, State of Arkansas (58-cv-2016-40), alleging violations of the TCPA. The case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (No. 4:16-cv-00682). On March 20, 2017, the District Court granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the J2 Global affiliates and dismissed all claims against the J2 Global affiliates. On July 23, 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the judgment and remanded to district court with instructions to return the case to state court. On January 29, 2019, after further appeals were exhausted, the case was remanded to the Arkansas state court. On April 1, 2019, the state court granted a motion for class certification filed by the plaintiff in 2016. Because the prior removal to federal court had deprived the state court of jurisdiction, the J2 Global affiliates had not yet filed an opposition brief to the 2016 motion when the state court granted the motion. The J2 Global affiliates appealed the order. On July 15, 2019, the J2 Global affiliates removed the case to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. On November 26, 2019, the court denied the Plaintiff’s motion to remand. On December 20, 2019, the court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend its complaint. The J2 Global affiliates have moved to dismiss the amended pleading.

J2 Global does not believe, based on current knowledge, that the foregoing legal proceedings or claims, after giving effect to existing accrued liabilities, are likely to have a material adverse effect on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. However, depending on the amount and timing, an unfavorable resolution of some or all of these matters could have a material effect on J2 Global’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows in a particular period.

The Company has not accrued for any material loss contingencies relating to these legal proceedings because materially unfavorable outcomes are not considered probable by management. It is the Company’s policy to expense as incurred legal fees related to various litigations.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.


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PART II


Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “JCOM”.

Holders

We had 258 registered stockholders as of February 25, 2020. That number excludes the beneficial owners of shares held in “street” name or held through participants in depositories.

Dividends

We initiated a quarterly cash dividend program in August 2011 with a payment of $0.20 per share of common stock on September 19, 2011. We have paid an increasing quarterly cash dividend in each subsequent calendar quarter through June 4, 2019.

The following is a summary of each dividend declared during fiscal year 2019 and 2018:
Declaration Date
 
Dividend per Common Share
 
Record Date
 
Payment Date
February 2, 2018
 
$
0.4050

 
February 22, 2018
 
March 9, 2018
May 3, 2018
 
$
0.4150

 
May 18, 2018
 
June 1, 2018
August 8, 2018
 
$
0.4250

 
August 20, 2018
 
September 4, 2018
October 29, 2018
 
$
0.4350

 
November 19, 2018
 
December 5, 2018
February 6, 2019
 
$
0.4450

 
February 25, 2019
 
March 12, 2019
May 2, 2019
 
$
0.4550

 
May 20, 2019
 
June 4, 2019

Future dividends are subject to Board approval. Based on the significant number of current investment opportunities within the Company’s portfolio of businesses and the historic returns from prior investments, the Board of Directors suspended dividend payments for the foreseeable future after the June 4, 2019 payment.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

Not applicable.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
               
Effective February 15, 2012, the Company’s Board of Directors approved a program authorizing the repurchase of up to five million shares of our common stock through February 20, 2013 (the “2012 Program”) which was subsequently extended through February 20, 2021 (see Note 22 - Subsequent Events of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference). Cumulatively at December 31, 2019, we had repurchased 2.9 million shares under the 2012 Program at an aggregated cost of $117.1 million (including an immaterial amount of commission fees).

In August 2019, the Company acquired 197,870 shares of J2 Global common stock in connection with the 2012 Program and subsequently retired the shares in the same month. In December 2018, the Company acquired 600,000 shares of J2 Global common stock in connection with the 2012 Program and subsequently retired the shares in March 2019 (see Note 14 - Stockholders’ Equity of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference). As a result of the acquisition of J2 Global common stock through the Company’s share repurchase program, the number of shares available for purchase under the 2012 Program is 1,140,819 shares of J2 Global common stock as of December 31, 2019.


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The following table details the repurchases that were made under and outside the 2012 Program during the three months ended December 31, 2019:
Period
Total Number of
Shares
Purchased (1)
 
Average Price
Paid Per Share
 
Total Number of
Shares Purchased as
Part of Publicly
Announced Plans or
Programs
 
Maximum
Number of
Shares that
May Yet Be
Purchased
Under the Plans or Programs
October 1, 2019 - October 31, 2019
1,365

 
$
95.06

 

 
1,140,819

November 1, 2019 - November 30, 2019
14,416

 
$
97.44

 

 
1,140,819

December 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
363

 
$
94.06

 

 
1,140,819

Total
16,144

 
 

 

 
1,140,819

(1)  
Includes shares surrendered to the Company to pay the exercise price and/or to satisfy tax withholding obligations in connection with employee stock options and/or the vesting of restricted stock issued to employees.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

The following table provides information as of December 31, 2019 regarding shares outstanding and available for issuance under J2 Global’s existing equity compensation plans:
Plan Category
Number of
Securities
to Be
Issued Upon
Exercise of
Outstanding
Options,
Warrants
and Rights (a)
 
Weighted-Average
Exercise Price of
Outstanding
Options,
Warrants
and Rights (b)
 
Number of
Securities
Remaining
Available
for Future
Issuance
Under Equity
Compensation
Plans
(Excluding
Securities
Reflected in
Column (a)) (c)
Equity compensation plans approved by security holders
518,341

 
$
65.77

 
3,720,536

Equity compensation plans not approved by security holders

 

 

      Total
518,341

 
$
65.77

 
3,720,536


The number of securities remaining available for future issuance includes 2,196,968 and 1,523,568 under our 2015 Stock Option Plan and 2001 Employee Stock Purchase Plan, respectively. Please refer to Note 15 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for a description of these Plans as well as our 2007 Stock Option Plan, which terminated on February 14, 2017.

Performance Graph

This performance graph shall not be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act of 1934, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing of J2 Global under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return for J2 Global, the NASDAQ Computer Index and an index of companies that J2 Global has selected as its peer group in the cloud services for business space.

J2 Global’s peer group index for 2019 consists of IAC/InterActive Corp., TripAdvisor, Inc., LivePerson, Inc., LogMeIn, Inc., Zillow Group, Inc., Salesforce.com, Inc., Open Text Corp. and Tyler Technologies, Inc. The Company removed The Ultimate Software Group, Inc. since it was acquired during the current year and added Tyler Technologies, Inc.
 

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J2 Global’s 2018 peer group index consisted of IAC/InterActive Corp., TripAdvisor, Inc., LivePerson, Inc., LogMeIn, Inc., Zillow Group, Inc., Salesforce.com, Inc., Open Text Corp. and The Ultimate Software Group, Inc.

Measurement points are December 31, 2014 and the last trading day in each of J2 Global’s fiscal quarters through the end of fiscal 2019. The graph assumes that $100 was invested on December 31, 2014 in J2 Global’s common stock and in each of the indices, and assumes reinvestment of any dividends. The stock price performance on the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

Measurement
 
NASDAQ
2019 Peer
2018 Peer
Date
J2 Global
Computer Index
Group Index
Group Index
Dec-14
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
Mar-15
106.41
101.29
109.41
109.37
Jun-15
110.06
101.49
112.91
112.60
Sep-15
114.77
96.39
108.54
106.93
Dec-15
133.28
106.24
121.91
119.76
Mar-16
99.85
107.15
110.36
109.93
Jun-16
102.43
102.92
122.18
120.36
Sep-16
107.99
117.92
116.92
114.55
Dec-16
132.51
119.28
109.77
108.52
Mar-17
135.93
134.64
125.13
124.15
Jun-17
137.85
140.28
134.59
133.05
Sep-17
119.78
152.54
142.27
141.22
Dec-17
121.65
165.52
151.73
151.08
Mar-18
127.94
169.69
173.57
172.39
Jun-18
140.36
181.63
195.89
195.40
Sep-18
134.31
195.73
222.12
221.91
Dec-18
112.60
159.43
190.25
191.30
Mar-19
140.40
189.23
217.24
218.86
Jun-19
144.10
196.55
213.87
214.71
Sep-19
146.48
205.26
209.24
207.57
Dec-19
151.15
239.67
231.80
229.52


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Item 6. Selected Financial Data

The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements, the related notes contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the information contained herein in Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results.
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
(In thousands, except for share and per share amounts)
Statement of Income Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenues
$
1,372,054

 
$
1,207,295

 
$
1,117,838

 
$
874,255

 
$
720,815

Cost of revenues
237,323

 
201,074

 
172,313

 
147,100

 
122,958

      Gross profit
1,134,731

 
1,006,221

 
945,525

 
727,155

 
597,857

Operating expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      Sales and marketing
379,183

 
338,304

 
330,296

 
206,871

 
159,009

      Research, development and engineering
54,396

 
48,370

 
46,004

 
38,046

 
34,329

      General and administrative
424,072

 
375,267

 
323,517

 
239,672

 
205,137

      Total operating expenses
857,651

 
761,941

 
699,817

 
484,589

 
398,475

Income from operations
277,080

 
244,280

 
245,708

 
242,566

 
199,382

      Interest expense, net
69,546

 
61,987

 
67,777

 
41,370

 
42,458

      Other expense (income), net
7,936

 
4,706

 
(22,035
)
 
(10,243
)
 
5

Income before income taxes and net loss in earnings of equity method investment
199,598

 
177,587

 
199,966

 
211,439

 
156,919

Income tax (benefit) expense
(19,376
)
 
44,760

 
60,541

 
59,000

 
23,283

Net loss in earnings of equity method investment
168

 
4,140

 

 

 

Net income
$
218,806

 
$
128,687

 
$
139,425

 
$
152,439

 
$
133,636

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income per common share:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      Basic
$
4.52

 
$
2.64

 
$
2.89

 
$
3.15

 
$
2.76

      Diluted
$
4.39

 
$
2.59

 
$
2.83

 
$
3.13

 
$
2.73

Weighted average shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      Basic
47,647,397

 
47,950,746

 
47,586,242

 
47,668,357

 
47,627,853

      Diluted
49,025,684

 
48,927,791

 
48,669,027

 
47,963,226

 
48,087,760

Cash dividends declared per common share
$
0.90

 
$
1.68

 
$
1.52

 
$
1.36

 
$
1.22

 
 
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
(In thousands)
Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
575,615

 
$
209,474

 
$
350,945

 
$
123,950

 
$
255,530

Working capital
53,786

 
153,009

 
355,325

 
(106,090
)
 
286,151

Total assets
3,505,846

 
2,560,830

 
2,453,093

 
2,062,328

 
1,783,719

Other long-term liabilities
10,228

 
51,068

 
31,434

 
3,475

 
18,228

Total stockholders’ equity
$
1,311,192

 
$
1,035,744

 
$
1,020,305

 
$
914,536

 
$
890,208



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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
    
In addition to historical information, the following Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations contains forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of many factors, including but not limited to those discussed in Part I, Item 1A - “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect management’s opinions only as of the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to revise or publicly release the results of any revision to these forward-looking statements, except as required by law. Readers should carefully review the Risk Factors and the risk factors set forth in other documents we file from time to time with the SEC.

Overview

J2 Global, Inc., together with its subsidiaries (“J2 Global”, “the Company”, “our”, “us” or “we”), is a leading provider of internet services. Through our Cloud Services business, we provide cloud-based subscription services to consumers and businesses and license our intellectual property (“IP”) to third parties. In addition, the Cloud Services business includes fax, security, privacy, data backup, email marketing and voice products. Our Digital Media business specializes in the technology, gaming, broadband, business to business, healthcare, and international markets offering content, tools and services to consumers and businesses.
J2 Global was incorporated in 2014 as a Delaware corporation through the creation of a new holding company structure, and our Cloud Services business, operated by our wholly owned subsidiary, J2 Cloud Services, LLC (formerly J2 Cloud Services, Inc.), and its subsidiaries, was founded in 1995. We manage our operations through two businesses: Cloud Services and Digital Media.

Our Cloud Services business generates revenues primarily from customer subscription and usage fees and from IP licensing fees. Our Digital Media business generates revenues from advertising and sponsorships, subscription and usage fees, performance marketing and licensing fees.

In addition to growing our business organically, on a regular basis we acquire businesses to grow our customer bases, expand and diversify our service offerings, enhance our technologies, acquire skilled personnel and enter into new markets.
Our consolidated revenues are currently generated from three basic business models, each with different financial profiles and variability. Our Cloud Services business is driven primarily by subscription revenues that are relatively higher margin, stable and predictable from quarter to quarter with some seasonal weakness in the fourth quarter. The Cloud Services business also includes the results of our IP licensing business, which can vary dramatically in both revenues and profitability from period to period. Our Digital Media business is driven primarily by advertising revenues, has relatively higher sales and marketing expense and has seasonal strength in the fourth quarter. We continue to pursue additional acquisitions, which may include companies operating under business models that differ from those we operate under today. Such acquisitions could impact our consolidated profit margins and the variability of our revenues.


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Cloud Services Performance Metrics

The following table sets forth certain key operating metrics for our Cloud Services business for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 (in thousands, except for percentages):
 
Years ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
Subscriber revenues:
 

 
 

 
 

Fixed
$
549,739

 
$
488,948

 
$
471,269

Variable
111,075

 
108,333

 
102,928

Total subscriber revenues
660,814

 
597,281

 
574,197

Other license revenues
1,021

 
694

 
4,759

Total revenues
$
661,835

 
$
597,975

 
$
578,956

Percentage of total subscriber revenues:
 

 
 

 
 

Fixed
83.2
%
 
81.9
%
 
82.1
%
Variable
16.8
%
 
18.1
%
 
17.9
%
Total revenues:
 
 
 
 
 

Number-based
$
388,334

 
$
393,079

 
$
384,929

Non-number-based
273,501

 
204,896

 
194,027

Total revenues
$
661,835

 
$
597,975

 
$
578,956

 
 
 
 
 
 
Average monthly revenue per Cloud Business Customer (ARPU) (1)(2)
$
14.54

 
$
15.61

 
$
15.31

Cancel rate (3)
2.4
%
 
2.1
%
 
2.0
%

(1) 
Quarterly ARPU is calculated using our standard convention of applying the average of the quarter’s beginning and ending base to the total revenue for the quarter. We believe ARPU provides investors an understanding of the average monthly revenues we recognize associated with each Cloud Services customer. As ARPU varies based on fixed subscription fee and variable usage components, we believe it can serve as a measure by which investors can evaluate trends in the types of services, levels of services and the usage levels of those services across our Cloud Services customer base.

(2) 
Cloud Services customers are defined as paying direct inward dialing numbers for fax and voice services, and direct and resellers’ accounts for other services.

(3) 
Cancel Rate is defined as cancels of small and medium businesses and individual Cloud Services customers with greater than four months of continuous service (continuous service includes Cloud Services customers administratively canceled and reactivated within the same calendar month), and enterprise Cloud Services customers beginning with their first day of service. Calculated monthly and expressed as an average over the three months of the quarter.

Digital Media Performance Metrics

The following table sets forth certain key operating metrics for our Digital Media business for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 (in millions):
 
Years ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
Visits
7,542

 
7,706

 
5,720

Page views
29,292

 
31,727

 
23,731

Sources: Google Analytics and Partner Platforms

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

We prepare our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and operating results require us to

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make judgments, assumptions and estimates that affect the amounts reported in our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. See Note 2, “Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Form 10-K which describes the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying value of assets and liabilities. Actual results may differ significantly from those estimates under different assumptions and conditions and may be material.

We believe that our most critical accounting policies are those related to revenue recognition, valuation and impairment of investments, our assessment of ownership interests as variable interest entities and the related determination of consolidation, share-based compensation expense, assets acquired and liabilities assumed in connection with business combinations, long-lived and intangible asset impairment, contingent consideration, income taxes and contingencies and allowance for doubtful accounts. We consider these policies critical because they are those that are most important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results and require management’s most difficult, subjective and complex judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain. Senior management has reviewed these critical accounting policies and related disclosures with the Audit Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors.

Revenue Recognition

Cloud Services

The Company’s Cloud Services revenues substantially consist of monthly recurring subscription and usage-based fees, the majority of which are paid in advance by credit card. The Company defers the portions of monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually recurring subscription and usage-based fees collected in advance of the satisfaction of performance obligations and recognizes them in the period earned.

Along with our numerous proprietary Cloud Services solutions, the Company also generates revenues by reselling various third-party solutions, primarily through our security and data backup lines of business. These third-party solutions, along with our proprietary products, allow the Company to offer customers a variety of solutions to better meet their needs. The Company records revenue on a gross basis with respect to reseller revenue because the Company has control of the specified good or service prior to transferring control to the customer.

J2 Global’s Cloud Services also includes patent license revenues generated under license agreements that provide for the payment of contractually determined fully paid-up or royalty-bearing license fees to J2 Global in exchange for the grant of non-exclusive, retroactive and future licenses to our intellectual property, including patented technology. Patent revenues may also consist of revenues generated from the sale of patents. Patent license arrangements are evaluated to determine if they grant the customer a right to access the Company’s intellectual property which is generally recognized over the life of the arrangement or a right to use the Company’s intellectual property which is generally recognized at the point in time the license is granted. With regard to royalty-bearing license arrangements, the Company recognizes revenues of license fees earned during the applicable period. 

The Cloud Services business also generates revenues by licensing certain technology to third parties. Generally, revenue is recognized over time as the third party uses the licensed technology over the period.

Digital Media

Digital Media revenues are earned primarily from the delivery of advertising services and from subscriptions to services and information. Payment is received in arrears by check or wire and includes terms aligned with the industry standard of 90 days or less.

Revenue is earned from the delivery of advertising services on the Company’s owned and operated websites and on those websites that are part of Digital Media’s advertising network. Depending on the individual contracts with the customer, revenue for these services are recognized over the contract period when any of the following performance obligations are satisfied: (i) when an advertisement is placed for viewing; (ii) when a qualified sales lead is delivered; (iii) when a visitor “clicks through” on an advertisement; or (iv) when commissions are earned upon the sale of an advertised product.

Revenue from subscriptions is earned through the granting of access to, or delivery of, certain data products or services to customers. Subscriptions cover video games and related content, health information, data and other copyrighted material.

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Revenues under such agreements are recognized over the contract term for use of the service. Revenues are also earned from listing fees, subscriptions to online publications, and from other sources. Subscription revenues are recognized over time.

J2 Global also generates Digital Media revenues through the license of certain assets to clients. Assets are licensed for clients’ use in their own promotional materials or otherwise. Such assets may include logos, editorial reviews, or other copyrighted material. Revenues under such license agreements are recognized over the contract term for use of the asset. Technology assets are also licensed to clients. These assets are recognized over the term of the access period. The Digital Media business also generates revenue from other sources which had included marketing and production services. Such other revenues are generally recognized over the period in which the products or services are delivered. Revenues were no longer generated in 2018 from certain marketing and production services as a result of the sale of certain Digital Media assets during 2017.

J2 Global also generates Digital Media revenues from transactions involving the sale of perpetual software licenses, related software support and maintenance, hardware used in conjunction with its software, and other related services. Revenue is recognized for these software transactions with multiple performance obligations after (i) the Company has had an approved contract and is committed to perform the respective obligations and (ii) the Company can identify and quantify each obligation and its respective selling price. Once the respective performance obligations have been identified and quantified, revenue will be recognized when the obligations are met, either over time or at a point in time depending on the nature of the obligation.

Revenues from software license performance obligations are generally recognized upfront at the point in time that the software is made available to the customer to download and use. Revenues for related software support and maintenance performance obligations are related to technical support provided to customers as needed and unspecified software product upgrades, maintenance releases and patches during the term of the support period when they are available. The Company is obligated to make the support services available continuously throughout the contract period. Therefore, revenues for support contracts are generally recognized ratably over the contractual period the support services are provided. Hardware product and related software performance obligations, such as an operating system or firmware, are highly interdependent and interrelated and are accounted for as a bundled performance obligation. The revenues for this bundled performance obligation are generally recognized at the point in time that the hardware and software products are delivered and ownership is transferred to the customer. Other service revenues are generally recognized over time as the services are performed.

The Company records revenue on a gross basis with respect to revenue generated (i) by the Company serving online display and video advertising across its owned and operated web properties, on third-party sites or on unaffiliated advertising networks; (ii) through the Company’s lead-generation business; and (iii) through the Company’s subscriptions. The Company records revenue on a net basis with respect to revenue paid to the Company by certain third-party advertising networks who serve online display and video advertising across the Company’s owned-and-operated web properties and certain third-party sites.

Valuation and Impairment of Investments

We account for our investments in debt securities in accordance with Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) ASC Topic No. 320, Investments - Debt Securities (“ASC 320”). Our debt investments are typically comprised of corporate debt securities. We determine the appropriate classification of our investments at the time of acquisition and evaluate such determination at each balance sheet date. Trading securities are those investments that we intend to sell within a few hours or days and are carried at fair value, with unrealized gains and losses included in investment income. Available-for-sale debt securities are those investments we do not intend to hold to maturity and can be sold. Available-for-sale debt securities are carried at fair value with unrealized gains and losses included in other comprehensive income. Held-to-maturity securities are those investments which we have the ability and intent to hold until maturity and are recorded at amortized cost. All debt securities are accounted for on a specific identification basis.

We account for our investments in equity securities in accordance with ASC Topic No. 321, Investments - Equity Securities (“ASC 321”) which requires the accounting for equity investments (other than those accounted for using the equity method of accounting) generally be measured at fair value for equity securities with readily determinable fair values. For equity securities without a readily determinable fair value that are not accounted for by the equity method, we measure the equity security using cost, less impairment, if any, and plus or minus observable price changes arising from orderly transactions in the same or similar investment from the same issuer. Any unrealized gains or losses will be reported in current earnings (see Note 5 - Investments of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference).


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We assess whether an other-than-temporary impairment loss on an investment has occurred due to declines in fair value or other market conditions (see Note 5 - Investments of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference).

Variable Interest Entities (“VIE”)

A VIE requires consolidation by the entity’s primary beneficiary. We evaluate our investments in entities in which we are involved to determine if the entity is a VIE and if so, whether we hold a variable interest and are the primary beneficiary. We have determined that we hold a variable interest in our investment as a limited partner in the OCV Fund I, LP (“OCV Fund”, “OCV” or the “Fund”). In determining whether we are the primary beneficiary of the VIE, both of the following characteristics must be present:

a) the Company has the power to direct the activities of the VIE that most significantly impacts the VIEs economic performance (the power criterion); and

b) the Company has the obligation to absorb losses of the VIE, or the right to receive benefits of the VIE, that could potentially be significant to the VIE (the economic criterion).

We have concluded that, as a limited partner, although the obligations to absorb losses or benefit from the gains is not insignificant, we do not have “power” over OCV because we do not have the ability to direct the significant decisions which impact the economics of OCV. We believe that the OCV general partner, as a single decision maker, holds the ability to make the decisions about the activities that most significantly impact the OCV Fund’s economic performance. As a result, we have concluded that we will not consolidate OCV, as we are not the primary beneficiary of the OCV Fund, and will account for this investment under the equity-method of accounting. See Note 5, “Investments”, of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference.

OCV qualifies as an investment company under ASC 946 - Financial Services, Investment Companies (“ASC 946”). Under ASC Topic 323, Investments - Equity Method and Joint Ventures, an investor that holds investments that qualify for specialized industry accounting for investment companies in accordance with ASC 946 should record its share of the earnings or losses, realized or unrealized, as reported by its equity method investees in the consolidated statements of income.

We recognize our equity in the net earnings or losses relating to the investment in OCV on a one-quarter lag due to the timing and availability of financial information from OCV. If we become aware of a significant decline in value, the loss will be recorded in the period in which we identify the decline.

Share-Based Compensation Expense  

We comply with the provisions of FASB ASC Topic No. 718, Compensation - Stock Compensation (“ASC 718”). Accordingly, we measure share-based compensation expense at the grant date, based on the fair value of the award, and recognize the expense over the employee’s requisite service period using the straight-line method. The measurement of share-based compensation expense is based on several criteria including, but not limited to, the valuation model used and associated input factors, such as expected term of the award, stock price volatility, risk free interest rate, dividend rate and award cancellation rate. These inputs are subjective and are determined using management’s judgment. If differences arise between the assumptions used in determining share-based compensation expense and the actual factors, which become known over time, we may change the input factors used in determining future share-based compensation expense. Any such changes could materially impact our results of operations in the period in which the changes are made and in periods thereafter. We elected to adopt the alternative transition method for calculating the tax effects of share-based compensation.

Long-lived and Intangible Assets  

We account for long-lived assets in accordance with the provisions of FASB ASC Topic No. 360, Property, Plant, and Equipment (“ASC 360”), which addresses financial accounting and reporting for the impairment or disposal of long-lived assets.


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We assess the impairment of identifiable definite-lived intangibles and long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. Factors we consider important which could individually or in combination trigger an impairment review include the following:

 
.
Significant underperformance relative to expected historical or projected future operating results;
 
.
Significant changes in the manner of our use of the acquired assets or the strategy for our overall business;
 
.
Significant negative industry or economic trends;
 
.
Significant decline in our stock price for a sustained period; and
 
.
Our market capitalization relative to net book value.

If we determined that the carrying value of definite-lived intangibles and long-lived assets may not be recoverable based upon the existence of one or more of the above indicators of impairment, we would record an impairment equal to the excess of the carrying amount of the asset over its estimated fair value.

We have assessed whether events or changes in circumstances have occurred that potentially indicate the carrying value of definite-lived intangibles and long-lived assets may not be recoverable and noted no indicators of potential impairment for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017.

Business Combinations and Valuation of Goodwill and Purchased Intangible Assets  

We apply the acquisition method of accounting for business combinations in accordance with GAAP, which requires us to make use of estimates and judgments to allocate the purchase price paid for acquisitions to the fair value of the assets, including identifiable intangible assets and liabilities acquired. Such estimates may be based on significant unobservable inputs and assumptions such as, but not limited to, revenue growth rates, gross margins, customer attrition rates, royalty rates, discount rates and terminal growth rate assumptions. We use established valuation techniques and may engage reputable valuation specialists to assist with the valuations. Management’s estimates of fair value are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable and, as a result, actual results may differ from estimates. Fair values are subject to refinement for up to one year after the closing date of an acquisition as information relative to closing date fair values becomes available. Upon the conclusion of the measurement period, any subsequent adjustments are recorded to earnings.

We evaluate our goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment pursuant to FASB ASC Topic No. 350, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other (“ASC 350”), which provides that goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite lives are not amortized but tested for impairment annually or more frequently if circumstances indicate potential impairment. In connection with the annual impairment test for goodwill, we have the option to perform a qualitative assessment in determining whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount. If we determine that it was more likely than not that the fair value of the reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, then we perform the impairment test upon goodwill. The impairment test is performed by comparing a reporting unit’s fair value to its carrying value; if the fair value is less than its carrying value, impairment is indicated. In connection with the annual impairment test for intangible assets, we have the option to perform a qualitative assessment in determining whether it is more likely than not that the fair value is less than its carrying amount, then we perform the impairment test upon intangible assets.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, there was a change to our reporting units. As a result of this change, we allocated goodwill to our new reporting units using a relative fair value approach. In addition, we completed an assessment of any potential goodwill impairment for all reporting units immediately before and after the reallocation and determined no impairment existed. Further, we completed the required impairment review for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 and noted no impairment. Consequently, no impairment charges were recorded.

Contingent Consideration

Certain of our acquisition agreements include contingent earn-out arrangements, which are generally based on the achievement of future income thresholds or other metrics. The contingent earn-out arrangements are based upon our valuations of the acquired companies and reduce the risk of overpaying for acquisitions if the projected financial results are not achieved.


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The fair values of these earn-out arrangements are included as part of the purchase price of the acquired companies on their respective acquisition dates. For each transaction, we estimate the fair value of contingent earn-out payments as part of the initial purchase price and record the estimated fair value of contingent consideration as a liability on the consolidated balance sheets. We consider several factors when determining that contingent earn-out liabilities are part of the purchase price, including the following: (1) the valuation of our acquisitions is not supported solely by the initial consideration paid, and the contingent earn-out formula is a critical and material component of the valuation approach to determining the purchase price; and (2) the former shareholders of acquired companies that remain as key employees receive compensation other than contingent earn-out payments at a reasonable level compared with the compensation of our other key employees. The contingent earn-out payments are not affected by employment termination.

We measure our contingent earn-out liabilities in connection with acquisitions at fair value on a recurring basis using significant unobservable inputs classified within Level 3 of the fair value hierarchy (see Note 7 - Fair Value Measurements of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference). We may use various valuation techniques depending on the terms and conditions of the contingent consideration including a Monte-Carlo simulation. This simulation uses probability distribution for each significant input to produce hundreds or thousands of possible outcomes and the results are analyzed to determine probabilities of different outcomes occurring. Significant increases or decreases to these inputs in isolation would result in a significantly higher or lower liability with a higher liability capped by the contractual maximum of the contingent earn-out obligation. Ultimately, the liability will be equivalent to the amount paid, and the difference between the fair value estimate and amount paid will be recorded in earnings. The amount paid that is less than or equal to the liability on the acquisition date is reflected as cash used in financing activities in our consolidated statements of cash flows. Any amount paid in excess of the liability on the acquisition date is reflected as cash used in operating activities.

We review and re-assess the estimated fair value of contingent consideration on a quarterly basis, and the updated fair value could be materially different from the initial estimates or prior quarterly amounts. Changes in the estimated fair value of our contingent earn-out liabilities are reported in operating income. Adjustments to the estimated fair value related to changes in all other unobservable inputs are reported in operating income.

Income Taxes  

We account for income taxes in accordance with FASB ASC Topic No. 740, Income Taxes (“ASC 740”), which requires that deferred tax assets and liabilities be recognized using enacted tax rates for the effect of temporary differences between the book and tax basis of recorded assets and liabilities. ASC 740 also requires that deferred tax assets be reduced by a valuation allowance if it is more likely than not that some or all of the net deferred tax assets will not be realized. Our valuation allowance is reviewed quarterly based upon the facts and circumstances known at the time. In assessing this valuation allowance, we review historical and future expected operating results and other factors to determine whether it is more likely than not that deferred tax assets are realizable.

We are subject to income taxes in the U.S. (federal and state) and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Tax laws, regulations, and administrative practices in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change, with or without notice, due to economic, political, and other conditions, and significant judgment is required in evaluating and estimating our provision and accruals for these taxes. There are many transactions that occur during the ordinary course of business for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Our effective tax rates could be affected by numerous factors, such as intercompany transactions, the relative amount of our foreign earnings, including earnings being lower than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory rates, the applicability of special tax regimes, losses incurred in jurisdictions for which we are not able to realize the related tax benefit, changes in foreign currency exchange rates, entry into new businesses and geographies, changes to our existing businesses and operations, acquisitions (including integrations) and investments and how they are financed, changes in our stock price, changes in our deferred tax assets and liabilities and their valuation, and changes in the relevant tax, accounting, and other laws, regulations, administrative practices, principles, and interpretations. In addition, a number of countries are actively pursuing changes to their tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals, such as the recently enacted the 2017 Tax Act. Finally, foreign governments may enact tax laws in response to the 2017 Tax Act that could result in further changes to global taxation and materially affect our financial position and results of operations.


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Income Tax Contingencies 

We calculate current and deferred tax provisions based on estimates and assumptions that could differ from the actual results reflected in income tax returns filed during the following year. Adjustments based on filed returns are recorded when identified in the subsequent year.

ASC 740 provides guidance on the minimum threshold that an uncertain income tax position is required to meet before it can be recognized in the financial statements and applies to all tax positions taken by a company. ASC 740 contains a two-step approach to recognizing and measuring uncertain income tax positions. The first step is to evaluate the income tax position for recognition by determining if the weight of available evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained on audit, including resolution of related appeals or litigation processes, if any. The second step is to measure the tax benefit as the largest amount that is more than 50% likely of being realized upon settlement. If it is not more likely than not that the benefit will be sustained on its technical merits, no benefit will be recorded. Uncertain income tax positions that relate only to timing of when an item is included on a tax return are considered to have met the recognition threshold. We recognize accrued interest and penalties related to uncertain income tax positions in income tax expense on our consolidated statement of income. On a quarterly basis, we evaluate uncertain income tax positions and establish or release reserves as appropriate under GAAP.

As a multinational corporation, we are subject to taxation in many jurisdictions, and the calculation of our tax liabilities involves dealing with uncertainties in the application of complex tax laws and regulations in various taxing jurisdictions. Our estimate of the potential outcome of any uncertain tax issue is subject to management’s assessment of relevant risks, facts and circumstances existing at that time. Therefore, the actual liability for U.S. or foreign taxes may be materially different from our estimates, which could result in the need to record additional tax liabilities or potentially to reverse previously recorded tax liabilities. In addition, we may be subject to examination of our tax returns by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and other domestic and foreign tax authorities.

Non-Income Tax Contingencies  

The Company does not collect and remit sales and use, telecommunication, or similar taxes in certain jurisdictions where the Company believes that such taxes are not applicable or legally required. Several states and other taxing jurisdictions have presented or threatened the Company with assessments, alleging that the Company is required to collect and remit such taxes there.

The Company is currently under audit or is subject to audit for indirect taxes in various states, municipalities and foreign jurisdictions. The Company has a $21.2 million reserve established for these matters which is included in accounts payable and accrued expenses on the consolidated balance sheet at December 31, 2019. It is reasonably possible that additional liabilities could be incurred resulting in additional expense, which could have a materially impact on our financial results.

Allowances for Doubtful Accounts

We reserve for receivables we may not be able to collect. The reserves for our Cloud Services business are typically driven by the volume of credit card declines and past due invoices and are based on historical experience as well as an evaluation of current market conditions. The reserves for our Digital Media business are typically driven by past due invoices based on historical experience. On an ongoing basis, management evaluates the adequacy of these reserves.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

See Note 2, “Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies”, to our accompanying consolidated financial statements for a description of recent accounting pronouncements and our expectations of their impact on our consolidated financial position and results of operations.


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Results of Operations

Years Ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017

Cloud Services

Assuming a stable or improving economic environment, and, subject to our risk factors, we expect the revenue and profits as included in the results of operations below in our Cloud Services business to be stable for the foreseeable future (excluding the impact of acquisitions). The main focus of our Cloud Services offerings is to reduce or eliminate costs, increase sales and enhance productivity, mobility, business continuity and security of our customers as the technologies and devices they use evolve over time. As a result, we expect to continue to take steps to enhance our existing offerings and offer new services to continue to satisfy the evolving needs of our customers. Through our IP licensing operations, which are included in the Cloud Services business, we seek to make our IP available for license to third parties, and we expect to continue to attempt to obtain additional IP through a combination of acquisitions and internal development in an effort to increase available licensing opportunities and related revenues.

We expect acquisitions to remain an important component of our strategy and use of capital in this business; however, we cannot predict whether our current pace of acquisitions will remain the same within this business. In a given period, we may close greater or fewer acquisitions than in prior periods or acquisitions of greater or lesser significance than in prior periods. Moreover, future acquisitions of businesses within this space but with different business models may impact Cloud Services’ overall profit margins. Also, as IP licensing often involves litigation, the timing of licensing transactions is unpredictable and can and does vary significantly from period to period. This variability can cause the overall business’s financial results to materially vary from period to period.

Digital Media

Assuming a stable or improving economic environment, and, subject to our risk factors, we expect the revenue and profits in our Digital Media business to improve over the next several quarters as we integrate our recent acquisitions and over the longer term as advertising transactions continue to shift from offline to online. The main focus of our advertising programs is to provide relevant and useful advertising to visitors to our websites and those included within our advertising networks, reflecting our commitment to constantly improve their overall web experience. As a result, we expect to continue to take steps to improve the relevance of the ads displayed on our websites and those included within our advertising networks.

The operating margin we realize on revenues generated from ads placed on our websites is significantly higher than the operating margin we realize from revenues generated from those placed on third-party websites. Growth in advertising revenues from our websites has generally exceeded that from third-party websites. This trend has had a positive impact on our operating margins, and we expect that this will continue for the foreseeable future. However, the trend in advertising spend is shifting to mobile devices and other newer advertising formats which generally experience lower margins than those from desktop computers and tablets. We expect this trend to continue to put pressure on our margins.

We expect acquisitions to remain an important component of our strategy and use of capital in this business; however, we cannot predict whether our current pace of acquisitions will remain the same within this business. In a given period, we may close greater or fewer acquisitions than in prior periods or acquisitions of greater or lesser significance than in prior periods. Moreover, future acquisitions of businesses within this space but with different business models may impact Digital Media’s overall profit margins.

J2 Global Consolidated

We anticipate that the stable revenue trend in our Cloud Services business combined with the improving revenue and profits in our Digital Media business will result in overall improved revenue and profits for J2 Global on a consolidated basis, excluding the impact of any future acquisitions which can vary dramatically from period to period.

We expect operating profit as a percentage of revenues to generally decrease in the future primarily due to the fact that revenue with respect to our Digital Media business (i) is increasing as a percentage of our revenue on a consolidated basis and (ii) has historically operated at a lower operating margin.


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The following table sets forth, for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, information derived from our statements of income as a percentage of revenues. This information should be read in conjunction with the accompanying financial statements and the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
 
Years ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
Revenues
100%
 
100%
 
100%
Cost of revenues
17
 
17
 
15
       Gross profit
83
 
83
 
85
Operating expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
       Sales and marketing
28
 
28
 
30
       Research, development and engineering
4
 
4
 
4
       General and administrative
31
 
31
 
29
       Total operating expenses
63
 
63
 
63
Income from operations
20
 
20
 
22
Interest expense, net
5
 
5
 
6
Other expense (income), net
1
 
 
(2)
Income before income taxes and net loss in earnings of equity method investment
15
 
15
 
18
Income tax (benefit) expense
(1)
 
4
 
5
Net loss in earnings of equity method investment
 
 
Net income
16%
 
11%
 
12%

Revenues
 
(in thousands, except percentages)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
Percentage Change 2019 versus 2018
 
Percentage Change 2018 versus 2017
Revenues
$
1,372,054

 
$
1,207,295

 
$
1,117,838

 
14%
 
8%

Our revenues consist of revenues from our Cloud Services business and from our Digital Media business. Cloud Services revenues primarily consist of revenues from “fixed” customer subscription revenues and “variable” revenues generated from actual usage of our services. We also generate Cloud Services revenues from IP licensing. Digital Media revenues primarily consist of advertising revenues, subscriptions earned through the granting of access to, or delivery of, certain data products or services to customers, fees paid for generating business leads, and licensing and sale of editorial content and trademarks.

Our revenues have increased over the past three years primarily due to a combination of acquisitions and organic growth within both the Digital Media and Cloud Services businesses.

Cost of Revenues
(in thousands, except percentages)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
Percentage Change 2019 versus 2018
 
Percentage Change 2018 versus 2017
Cost of revenue
$
237,323

 
$
201,074

 
$
172,313

 
18%
 
17%
As a percent of revenue
17%
 
17%
 
15%
 
 
 


Cost of revenues is primarily comprised of costs associated with content fees, data and voice transmission, numbers, editorial and production costs, network operations, customer service, online processing fees and software licenses for resale. The increase in cost of revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 was primarily due to an increase in costs associated with businesses acquired in and subsequent to fiscal 2018 that resulted in additional campaign fulfillment, partner inventory, network

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operations and customer service costs. The increase in cost of revenues for the year ended December 31, 2018 was primarily due to an increase in costs associated with businesses acquired in and subsequent to fiscal 2017 that resulted in additional content fees.

Operating Expenses

Sales and Marketing.
(in thousands, except percentages)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
Percentage Change 2019 versus 2018
 
Percentage Change 2018 versus 2017
Sales and Marketing
$
379,183

 
$
338,304

 
$
330,296

 
12%
 
2%
As a percent of revenue
28%
 
28%
 
30%
 
 
 

 
Our sales and marketing costs consist primarily of internet-based advertising, sales and marketing, personnel costs and other business development-related expenses. Our internet-based advertising relationships consist primarily of fixed cost and performance-based (cost-per-impression, cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition) advertising relationships with an array of online service providers. Advertising cost for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 was $158.2 million (primarily consisting of $112.4 million of third-party advertising costs and $41.3 million of personnel costs), $149.7 million (primarily consisting of $100.5 million of third-party advertising costs and $40.8 million of personnel costs) and $143.3 million (primarily consisting of $95.4 million of third-party advertising costs and $41.0 million of personnel costs), respectively. The increase in sales and marketing expenses from 2018 to 2019 was primarily due to increased personnel costs and advertising associated with the businesses acquired in and subsequent to fiscal 2018. The increase in sales and marketing expenses from 2017 to 2018 was primarily due to increased personnel costs and advertising associated with the businesses acquired in and subsequent to fiscal 2017.

Research, Development and Engineering.
(in thousands, except percentages)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
Percentage Change 2019 versus 2018
 
Percentage Change 2018 versus 2017
Research, Development and Engineering
$
54,396

 
$
48,370

 
$
46,004

 
12%
 
5%
As a percent of revenue
4%
 
4%
 
4%
 
 
 


Our research, development and engineering costs consist primarily of personnel-related expenses. The increase in research, development and engineering costs from 2018 to 2019 was primarily due to personnel costs associated with acquisitions within the Digital Media business. The increase in research, development and engineering costs from 2017 to 2018 was primarily due to personnel costs associated with acquisitions within the Cloud Service business.
 
General and Administrative.
(in thousands, except percentages)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
Percentage Change 2019 versus 2018
 
Percentage Change 2018 versus 2017
General and Administrative
$
424,072

 
$
375,267

 
$
323,517

 
13%
 
16%
As a percent of revenue
31%
 
31%
 
29%
 
 
 


Our general and administrative costs consist primarily of personnel-related expenses, depreciation and amortization, changes in the fair value associated with contingent consideration, share-based compensation expense, bad debt expense, professional fees, severance and insurance costs. The increase in general and administrative expense from 2018 to 2019 was primarily due to additional amortization of intangible assets, increased depreciation expense and personnel costs relating to acquisitions closed during 2018 and 2019. The increase in general and administrative expense from 2017 to 2018 was primarily due to additional amortization of intangible assets, increased depreciation expense and personnel costs relating to acquisitions closed during 2017 and 2018.


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Share-Based Compensation

The following table represents share-based compensation expense included in cost of revenues and operating expenses in the accompanying consolidated statements of income for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 (in thousands):
 
Years ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
Cost of revenues
$
525

 
$
510

 
$
500

Operating expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
      Sales and marketing
1,547

 
1,798

 
1,723

      Research, development and engineering
1,477

 
1,553

 
1,182

      General and administrative
20,373

 
24,232

 
19,332

Total
$
23,922

 
$
28,093

 
$
22,737


Non-Operating Income and Expenses

Interest expense, net. Our interest expense, net is generated primarily from interest expense due to outstanding debt, partially offset by interest income earned on cash, cash equivalents and investments. Interest expense, net was $69.5 million, $62.0 million, and $67.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. The increase from 2018 to 2019 was primarily due to increased interest expense associated with our line of credit borrowings and issuance of our 1.75% convertible senior notes in the fourth quarter 2019. The decrease from 2017 to 2018 was primarily due to decreased interest expense associated with the loss on extinguishment recognized in 2017 following the redemption of our $250 million of 8.0% senior notes recognized in 2017.

Other expense (income), net. Our other expense (income), net is generated primarily from miscellaneous items, gain or losses on currency exchange and gains or losses on investments. Other expense (income), net was $7.9 million, $4.7 million, and $(22.0) million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. The change from 2018 to 2019 was attributable to an impairment loss on equity securities and currency exchange losses. The change from 2017 to 2018 was attributable to gains earned in the prior period related to the sales of subsidiaries in our Digital Media and Cloud businesses.

Income Taxes

Our effective tax rate is based on pre-tax income, statutory tax rates, tax regulations (including those related to transfer pricing) and different tax rates in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. The tax bases of our assets and liabilities reflect our best estimate of the tax benefits and costs we expect to realize. When necessary, we establish valuation allowances to reduce our deferred tax assets to an amount that will more likely than not be realized. 

As of December 31, 2019, we had federal net operating loss carryforwards (“NOLs”) of $166.2 million after considering substantial restrictions on the utilization of these NOLs due to “ownership changes”, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. We estimate that all of the above-mentioned federal NOLs will be available for use before their expiration. $143.0 million of the NOLs expire through the year 2036 and $23.2 million of the NOLs carry forward indefinitely depending on the year the loss was incurred.

As of December 31, 2019 and 2018, the Company has no foreign tax credit carryovers. In addition, as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, we had available unrecognized state research and development tax credits of $3.2 million and $4.6 million, respectively, which last indefinitely.

Income tax (benefit) expense amounted to $(19.4) million, $44.8 million and $60.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Our effective tax rates for 2019, 2018 and 2017 were (9.7)%, 25.2% and 30.3%, respectively.

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The decrease in our annual effective income tax rate from 2018 to 2019 was primarily attributable to the following:

1.
a decrease during 2019 from an intra-entity transfer as part of the reorganization of our international operating structure resulting in recognition of $53.7 million tax benefit and corresponding deferred tax asset; and

2.
a decrease in tax expense during 2019 from an overall reduction in our net reserve for uncertain tax positions; partially offset by:

3.
a decrease in the benefit for the portion of our income being taxed in foreign jurisdictions and subject to lower tax rates than in the U.S. (relative to income from U.S. domestic operations).

The decrease in our annual effective income tax rate from 2017 to 2018 was primarily attributable to the following:

1.
a decrease during 2018 from the reduction in the U.S. federal statutory income tax rate from 35% to 21% effective on January 1, 2018; partially offset by:

2.
a decrease in the benefit for the portion of our income being taxed in foreign jurisdictions and subject to lower tax rates than in the U.S. (relative to income from U.S. domestic operations); and

3.
an increase in tax expense during 2018 due to tax law changes requiring certain income earned by foreign subsidiaries to be included in the income of the U.S. shareholder.

In order to provide additional understanding in connection with our foreign taxes, the following represents the statutory and effective tax rate by significant foreign country:
 
 
Ireland
 
United Kingdom
 
Canada
Statutory tax rate
 
12.5%
 
19.0%
 
26.5%
Effective tax rate (1)
 
9.8%
 
21.3%
 
27.5%
(1) Effective tax rate excludes certain discrete items.

The statutory tax rate is the rate imposed on taxable income for corporations by the local government in that jurisdiction.  The effective tax rate measures the taxes paid as a percentage of pretax profit. The effective tax rate can differ from the statutory tax rate when a company can exempt some income from tax, claim tax credits, or due to the effect of book-tax differences that do not reverse and discrete items.

Significant judgment is required in determining our provision for income taxes and in evaluating our tax positions on a worldwide basis. We believe our tax positions, including intercompany transfer pricing policies, are consistent with the tax laws in the jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. Certain of these tax positions have in the past been, and are currently being, challenged, and this may have a significant impact on our effective tax rate if our tax reserves are insufficient.

Equity Method Investment

Net loss in earnings of equity method investment. Net loss in earnings of equity method investment is generated from our investment in the OCV Fund for which we receive annual audited financial statements. The investment in the OCV Fund is presented net of tax and on a one-quarter lag due to the timing and availability of financial information from OCV. If the Company becomes aware of a significant decline in value that is other-than-temporary, the loss will be recorded in the period in which the Company identifies the decline.

The net loss in earnings of equity method investment was $0.2 million, $4.1 million and zero, net of tax benefit for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017 respectively. During the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017 the Company recognized management fees of $3.0 million, $4.5 million and zero, net of tax benefit, respectively.


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Cloud Services and Digital Media Results
Our businesses are based on the organization structure used by management for making operating and investment decisions and for assessing performance and have been aggregated into two businesses: (i) Cloud Services; and (ii) Digital Media.
We evaluate the performance of our businesses based on revenues, including both external and interbusiness net sales, and operating income. We account for interbusiness sales and transfers based primarily on standard costs with reasonable mark-ups established between the businesses. Identifiable assets by business are those assets used in the respective businesses operations. Corporate assets consist of cash and cash equivalents, deferred income taxes and certain other assets. All significant interbusiness amounts are eliminated to arrive at our consolidated financial results.
Cloud Services
The following results are presented for fiscal years 2019, 2018 and 2017 (in thousands):
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
External net sales
$
661,835

 
$
597,975

 
$
578,956

Inter-business net sales

 

 

Net sales
661,835

 
597,975

 
578,956

Cost of revenues
144,270

 
122,154

 
118,746

Gross profit
517,565

 
475,821

 
460,210

Operating expenses
279,761

 
245,701

 
234,166

Operating income
$
237,804

 
$
230,120

 
$
226,044

Net sales of $661.8 million in 2019 increased $63.9 million, or 10.7%, and net sales of $598.0 million in 2018 increased $19.0 million, or 3.3%, from the prior comparable period primarily due to business acquisitions.
Gross profit of $517.6 million in 2019