Wayfair files for $350 million IPO

August 15, 2014, 6:27 PM UTC
Courtesy: Wayfair

For months, Boston’s tech evangelists has been waiting for local e-commerce company Wayfair to file for an IPO. Today they got their wish.

The company filed to raise $350 million, with Goldman Sachs (GS) listed as left lead underwriter. Nine other banks also are on the filing, including BofA Merrill Lynch (BAC) and Citigroup (C). It plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol W.

Wayfair reports a $51 million net loss on $574 million in revenue for the first half of 2014, compared to an $8 million net loss on $383 million in revenue for the year-earlier period. Those losses seem to be driven by significantly increased marketing costs, with Wayfair cautioning that it expects its “operating losses and negative cash flow to increase significantly in the near-term as we increase investment in our business.”

Its annual revenue has climbed from $517 million in 2011 to $601 million in 2012 to $916 million last year.

The company has raised nearly $370 million in venture capital funding from such firms as Great Hill Partners (11.43%), HarbourVest Partners (7.03%), Battery Ventures (6.15%) and Spark Capital (4.4%). Included in that total is a $157 million investment earlier this year at a $2 billion valuation from a group of mutual funds led by T. Rowe Price (which is not listed as a significant shareholder in the filing) — $29 million of which was used to repurchase stock from insiders.

Wayfair’s largest stockholders are co-founders Niraj Shah (CEO) and Steven Conine (CTO), who each have 28.9% positions.

What’s so interesting about Wayfair is that it’s a consumer-facing retail brand on pace for more than $1 billion in annual revenue, but relatively few consumers actually know its name. That’s probably because Wayfair built itself up by buying up hundreds of item-specific domains, like Cookware.com and Luggage.com. It also used to be called CSN Stores, before rebranding in 2011.

The WSJ earlier today reported that several companies are pushing back their IPO plans, due to fears that Alibaba will suck up all of the banker and media attention when it prices next month. Kind of similar to what I wrote back in July, when it seemed that the Chinese Internet giant was still on track for an August 8th offering.

Wayfair was among the included companies, but I’m not so sure that it should be. The company will have to wait at least 21 days before launching its roadshow, which means the earliest it could directly pitch investors in the week of September 8th. Or, put another way, one week after WSJ reports that Alibaba is planning to launch its own efforts. And even that would be fast-tracking things, in a manner that we’ve really seen only with Twitter. A more common waiting period between S-1 and road show would be around one month, like GoPro did earlier this summer. Therefore, the two are unlikely to intersect — nor does Wayfair appear to be in any sort of holding pattern.

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