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Marin Software may have lost some value

Mar 12, 2013

FORTUNE -- If Marin Software prices its IPO in the middle of the $11-$13 per share price range it set yesterday, the offering would represent a markdown for venture capitalists who plugged nearly $55 million into the company last year.

Marin, a San Francisco-based provider of digital ad management solutions, reports that it raised $20 million last November in a Series F-1 round that was priced at $13.53 per share. It also raised $34.5 million last January at a price of nearly $12.30 per share. Investors in both rounds included Temasek Capital, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures and Crosslink Ventures. Focus Ventures only participated in the Series F-1.

Moreover, as part of the Series F, the venture capitalists redeemed $3 million worth of common stock held by Marin co-founder and CEO Christopher Lien.

Now, to be clear, all of the VCs except for Temasek have shares previously acquired at lower prices. For example, the Series E round (March 2011) was at $9.19 per share and the Series D (May 2010) was at $5.53 per share. And an IPO rarely represents an exit for VCs, who usually liquidate their positions slowly over time.

MORE: Marin Software files for IPO

But clearly something unexpected happened in the past four months – at least in the sense of VCs misjudging how public market investors would respond to the company. Unless this is an artificially low price range designed to set up a big bump story...

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