San Francisco-based Open Table wants to raise as much as $40 million through the public markets.  Open Table’s big venture backer is Benchmark Capital. The IPO will be led by underwriter Merrill Lynch.

Last year, OpenTable lost $149,000 through September 2008, on revenues of $41.3 million.

An IPO in tech — an IPO in anything venture-backed — has been a depressingly rare event as of late, the Times‘s Claire Cain Miller recently reminded us:

Only six venture-backed start-ups went public last year, the fewest since 1977 and down from 86 in 2007, according to data released Monday by the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters. Venture capitalists sold 260 companies in 2008, down from 360 in 2007.

Everyone raise a glass to Open Table CEO Jeff Jordan tonight! He’s a brave man.

See Also:
Wall Street’s Christmas Present: An Actual IPO!

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