Why LivingSocial wants to go public

July 21, 2011, 8:47 PM UTC

What is pushing LivingSocial into the public markets?

LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy was part of a “going local” panel yesterday at Fortune Brainstorm Tech, in which he said: “If you view this as a daily deals business, you’ve probably lost already… We view it as local commerce.”

No questions were asked  about his company’s IPO plans (it reportedly has already hired bankers), so afterward I pulled him aside to ask why a company like LivingSocial would be considering an IPO. After all, it seems plenty able to raise capital and generate shareholder liquidity on the private markets (it raised $400 million last quarter, half of which was used for liquidity).

O’Shaughnessy rattled off the four reasons a company would go public: Access to capital, shareholder liquidity, a public currency to use for acquisitions and public awareness.

He seemed mostly concerned with the last one, noting how Quantcast showed LinkedIn (LNKD) traffic spiking around the time of its IPO. For a company like LivingSocial, therefore, an IPO could basically be a major generator of new users (plus, of course, provide liquidity options if the private markets dry up a bit).

For what it’s worth, I ran the LinkedIn comparison by someone from LinkedIn, who thought it was a bit overblown. There certainly was an IPO-related traffic bump, he said, but added that the company’s season-over-season traffic growth was trending high even prior to the offering.