A Lone Voice in the Wild: OpenTable Files for IPO

In a display of either iron will or total unawareness, OpenTable, the online restaurant reservations service, filed an S-1 on 1/30/09 for an initial public offering of its shares.

I’m proud to report that with revenues of $41M in 2007 (and seemingly on track to report revenues of $55M+ in 2008) that company is roughly in line with my assessment of the IPO window parameters of 50/50/0 — i.e., $50M+ in revenues, 50% growth, and 0% profitability.

In fact, OpenTable is really on the edge of my window, just skooching above $50M in revenues, slightly low on growth (41% comparing the first three quarters of 2008 to 2007) and small net loss of $150K, which rounds to zero when divided by revenue.

Are they the leaders of the next wave of IPOs or are they simply crazy to consider an IPO in this market? I don’t know. Perhaps they’re both at the same time. But I’ve long argued that owning a share of Endeca (or OpenTable) is probably a lot less risky than, say, owning a share of General Motors or Lehman Brothers over the past year, so why not let John Q. Public again buy shares in early-stage growth companies? And there’s always somebody who has to go first.

By closing the IPO window and/or raising the IPO bar, you lock John Q. Public out the market for those companies (while not necessarily reducing his risk) and, in some cases, force companies to M&A exits, because they either don’t want to wait, or can’t raise enough private capital, to reach a higher IPO bar.

TechCrunch covers the filing here. I’ve embedded the S-1 below:

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