美国最早同时也是最大的在线团购公司Groupon（与腾讯合资的中国公司名为高朋——译注）近日以7.5亿美元的价格申请实行首次公开募股（IPO）。摩根士丹利公司（Morgan Stanley）和高盛公司（Goldman Sachs）是Groupon首次公开募股的联合主要承销商，瑞士信贷银行（Credit Suisse）也将参与此次IPO的承销。
迄今为止，该公司已经募集了5.6亿美元的风险资本资金；此外，它还支付了5.73亿美元的流动资金给早期员工和股东[其中也包括那些因Groupon拒绝谷歌（Google）60亿美元天价收购方案而怒火中烧的人]。其主要外部股东包括恩颐投资公司（New Enterprise Associates）和加速合伙公司（Accel Partners）。
业界曾普遍预计Groupon今年会上市。但是，由于首席运营官罗伯•索罗门（Rob Solomon）3月份意外辞职，致使公司计划受阻。一个月后，前谷歌（Google）高管玛戈•吉奥尔吉亚迪斯（Margo Georgiadis）接任。但是，从公司高级管理层的变更，到公司申请首次公开募股，这段过渡时间仍嫌过短。
我们密切追踪三个主要财务指标。首先，我们跟踪毛利，因为我们认为它才真正代表我们所创造的价值。其次，我们衡量自由现金流；因为在我们眼里，这是考量长期财务稳定性的最佳指标。最后，我们用来衡量公司财务绩效的第三个指标是调整后的总部门运营利润（Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income，ACSOI）。这个指标指的是在产生新的用户采购成本和某些非现金支出之前的总部门运营利润。我们将之视为：与长期发展相关的营销成本产生之前的运营收益率。
Groupon, the original and largest daily deals company, has filed to raise $750 million in an initial public offering. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are listed as co-lead underwriters, with Credit Suisse also participating.
The company did not say if it plans to trade on the NYSE or Nasdaq, but did say its ticker symbol would by GRPN. It features a dual-class stock structure, as have other recent Internet issuers like LinkedIn (LNKD) and Yandex (YNDX).
The Chicago-based company reports a $413 million net loss for 2010, on $713 million in revenue. For the first three months of 2011, it's a $113 million net loss on $664 million in revenue (14x rev increase from year-earlier period). It has over 7,000 employees and has sold more than 70 million "Groupons" to 83.1 million subscribers in 43 countries.
The company had raised over $560 million in venture capital funding, plus another $573 million that provided liquidity to early employees and shareholders (including those angry that Groupon had turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google). Major outside shareholders include New Enterprise Associates and Accel Partners.
Groupon says that some of the IPO shares will come from "selling shareholders" -- as opposed to only from the company -- but does not provide any information about quantity or identity.
[Update: It seems, from this tweet, as if the selling shareholder info has not yet been determined.]
Groupon had been widely expected to go public this year, but its plans hiccuped when chief operating officer Rob Solomon surprisingly resigned back in March. Ex-Google executive Margo Georgiadis was hired one month later to succeed Solomon, but that's still a very short turnaround from new senior management to IPO filing.
Then again, Groupon is not the most conventional of companies. Its IPO registration includes am introductory letter from iconoclastic CEO Andrew Mason, which includes the following nuggets:
We are unusual and we like it that way.
We want the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company.
And this (which is a direct response to those who argue Groupon cannot stay wildly successful in an enterprise that has few traditional barriers to entry):
Our customers and merchants are all we care about.
We believe that when once-great companies fall, they don't lose to competitors, they lose to themselves—and that happens when they stop focusing on making people happy. As such, we do not intend to be reactive to competitors. We will watch them, but we won't distract ourselves with decisions that aren't designed primarily to make our customers and merchants happy.
We don't measure ourselves in conventional ways.
There are three main financial metrics that we track closely. First, we track gross profit, which we believe is the best proxy for the value we're creating. Second, we measure free cash flow—there is no better metric for long-term financial stability. Finally, we use a third metric to measure our financial performance—Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income, or Adjusted CSOI. This metric is our consolidated segment operating income before our new subscriber acquisition costs and certain non-cash charges; we think of it as our operating profitability before marketing costs incurred for long-term growth.
As with any business in a 30-month-old industry, the path to success will have twists and turns, moments of brilliance and other moments of sheer stupidity. Knowing that this will at times be a bumpy ride, we thank you for considering joining us.
Speaking of that bumpy ride, it's perhaps worth noting that LinkedIn shares today are trading below $80 per share. In other words, those who bought first-day shares on the open market are currently underwater. These two companies are obviously quite different in both purpose and scale, but it's a reminder of how retail investors without I-bank ties can get burned even while the bubble is inflated...