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IPO candidate Marin Software admits it won’t be profitable in the ‘foreseeable future’

Search advertising technology company Marin Software has filed a registration statement for an IPO with the Securities and Exchanges commission.

This is the first ad-tech company to go public in 2013, a year that could be chock-full of IPOs.

The number of shares for sale and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. But we do know that the company plans to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “MRIN.”

Marin helps advertisers and agencies manage and track paid search ad campaigns across Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu (China’s search behemoth), and other search sites. Traditionally focused on search, Marin has expanded into display advertising, social, and mobile, a strategic move given that according to a filing “a substantial majority” of its customers use it to manage Google AdWords campaigns.

Marin Software's founder and CEO Christopher Lien

Above: Marin Software founder and CEO Christopher Lien

A strong sign for investors is that annual revenues have steadily risen: Forbes reports that the company pulled in $42.5 million for the first nine months of 2012, up from $24.7 million in the comparable span of 2011. Marin may also benefit from the burgeoning interest in business-to-business startups.

“The chatter about enterprise startups is more a function of the fact that consumer startups look less appealing [to investors] more than anything else,” said CB Insights’ CEO Anand Sanwal in a recent interview. “Folk are saying now that enterprise is the place they should be playing.”

However, Marin has not yet reached profitability, which may knock investors’ confidence, particularly given Zynga’s and Groupon’s recent stock woes.

“We do not expect to be profitable in the foreseeable future, and we cannot be certain that we will be able to attain profitability on a quarterly or annual basis, or if we do, that we will sustain profitability,” Marin stated in a filing. 

For the entirety of 2011, Marin had revenues of $36.1 million and a loss of $17.4 million, and the company failed to book an annual net profit in 2012. In addition, the company admits in a filing that its usage-based pricing model “makes it difficult to accurately forecast revenues.”

VentureBeat predicted an IPO from the company in the first quarter of 2013; rumors have been circulating in the press for at least six months. In 2011, Marin brought on a CFO from Shutterfly, a sure sign that the company expected to go public in the near future.

Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are acting as lead managers for the offering. UBS Securities and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company are acting as book-running managers, and Wells Fargo Securities is acting as a co-manager.


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