Two sources familiar with the matter say that Glam Media, the digital lifestyle-content publisher, has filed confidential documents as part of a new secret IPO process.
Glam got its start offering fashion and gossip content on Glam.com, but has since broadened into food, men’s lifestyle, health, and other topics. It’s one of the top 10 networks of websites in the U.S., according to ComScore.
This so-called “secret IPO” process, which was created under 2012’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, permits companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenues to start private discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission before announcing to the world that they’re going public.
There are other technical requirements for going public this way, but the revenue limit is the most significant one. Facebook, for example, wouldn’t have been eligible.
The confidential IPO process is becoming more and more common: A recent Ernst & Young study found that 59 per cent of eligible companies are taking the confidential-filing route.
After satisfying SEC regulators with private filings, a company files its paperwork publicly 21 days before conducting a roadshow for investors, after which it can list its shares on a market.
A Glam spokesperson declined to comment, as did several Glam investors we contacted.
Glam Media, founded in 2002, has raised $155 million from Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Burda Media, and others.
It also picked up other investors when it bought Ning, a maker of private social networks, in 2011, for a reported $150 million. Ning had raised $119 million from Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman, Legg Mason, and Allen & Co., among others. (Andreessen is also an investor in Business Insider.) Andreessen joined Glam’s board.
Business Insider recently estimated Glam’s 2012 revenues at between $120 million and $150 million, primarily from advertising. Glam owns properties like Glam.com and Bliss.com, and also represents independent Web publishers, selling ads on their sites.
Glam CEO Samir Arora previously founded NetObjects, which went public in 1999. Two years later, after the collapse of the dotcom bubble, NetObjects shut down and sold its software assets. Arora joined Glam a year later.
One source speculated that part of the appeal of the confidential IPO process for Arora, a masterful marketer, may be the mystery and novelty attached to it.
Glam has been flirting with an IPO for years. We reported last May that Glam had picked Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO. (A Goldman spokesperson declined to comment.) But with paperwork actually filed with the SEC, according to our sources, this process finally seems to be getting underway.
Workday, an enterprise-software startup, is the most well-known example of a company that went public under the JOBS Act. Trulia, the online real-estate service, also filed confidentially under the JOBS Act. Both are now trading above their IPO price, which suggests the confidential-filing process hasn’t hurt them in the public markets.
Indeed, the biggest benefit of the JOBS Act may come after the IPO, not before it. By getting designated as an “emerging growth company,” companies can avoid some SEC fees and regulations that larger public companies must face.