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Ancestry.com: oldest VC-backed IPO in '09

Web-based geneology site priced in range, confirms need for longer runway.

Financial trends and news by Matt Bowman
November 5, 2009 | Comments (1)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/ba6

 Ancestry.com, the Spectrum Equity Investors-backed website that allows people to trace their family roots by scouring online records, priced its IPO of 7.4 million shares at $13.50 per share on Wednesday, within the expected range, bringing in about $100 million.

The company was founded in 1983 as a publisher of family history books and moved online in 1997. This brings up the issue of the IPO runway. On Monday, I noted that Sarbox has doubled the time required for a venture-backed company to go public, and Michael Edwards asked for data backup. This offhand figure was based on VC hearsay, including a conversation a few months back with Tim Draper, who has a pretty good feel for the industry. He said a decade ago, the average age for a venture-backed company at IPO was 7 years.

This year’s other venture-backed IPOs have averaged 11 years. Ancestry's appropriately geriatric 26 brings the average to 13--just about double my hearsay estimate from the pre-Sarbox times. Take a look at the chart below of venture-backed tech IPOs, culled from a combo of my own research and IPO Scoop:



Also of interest is that venture-backed IPOs this year have kicked butt compared to other offerings. The list below of all tech IPOs is sorted by return.



Ancestry.com IPO press release below:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spectrum Equity Investors-backed website Ancestry.com Inc (ACOM.O) priced its initial public offering of 7.4 million shares at $13.50 per share on Wednesday, within the expected range.

Ancestry.com, which operates a website that allows people to trace their family roots by scouring online records, will begin trading on Nasdaq under the symbol “ACOM” ACOM.N on Thursday.

The Provo, Utah-based company had expected to sell 7.4 million shares in its IPO for between $12.50 and $14.50 each, in a $100 million offering.

Ancestry.com, which said it had 1 million subscribers as of September, was founded in 1983 and is majority owned by private equity firm Spectrum Equity Investors, whose stake in the company will fall to 54.8 percent after the IPO from 67 percent. Spectrum bought Ancestry.com for $354.8 million in December 2007.

The existing shareholders are selling about 45 percent of the shares in the IPO, with the rest coming from the company.

Ancestry.com expects net proceeds of $48.4 million from the IPO, and will use the money in part to repay $12.1 million it owes CIT Lending Services Corp, a unit of CIT Group Inc, (CITGQ.PK) and use the rest for working capital.

Ancestry.com’s registered users have built 12 million family trees containing 1.25 billion profiles, according to the filing.

Its revenue in the first nine months of 2009 was $164.8 million, largely from subscriptions, up 13.5 percent from the year earlier period. Over the same period, its profit rose 250 percent to $12.2 million. In 2008, each subscriber generated about $16.09 in revenues per month.

The IPO will be lead managed by Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N). Underwriters will have the option to buy another 1.1 million shares. (Editing by Carol Bishopric)



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Matt Bowman
Matt Bowman, on November 6, 2009

Update: Scott Austin at WSJ refines these numbers, and graphs the time to liquidity since 1999: http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2009/11/05/the-sluggish-pace-toward-an-ipo/


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