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Square IPO to test Dorsey's ability to run two companies

Square IPO to test Dorsey's ability to run two companies
October 15, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO - Mobile payments company Square Inc filed for its long-expected initial public offering on Wednesday in a test of Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey's ability to take the company public as he grapples with a turnaround at Twitter Inc. Square's filing on Wednesday comes little more than a week after Twitter appointed Dorsey to head the microblogging site. To address concerns about Dorsey's two jobs, Twitter also on Wednesday named Google Inc executive Omid Kordestani as its executive chairman. The filing also gave potential investors their first peek at Square's financials. The company said net revenue grew 51 percent to $560.6 million in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, while losses narrowed 2.2 percent to $77.6 million. "You can visualize a breakeven out there some place, maybe in a year and a half or something if they continue to grow," said Francis Gaskins, president of research firm IPO Desktop. Square will enter a challenging market for IPOs. The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2009, was valued at $6 billion at its last funding round a year ago. It would be among the highest-valued tech companies to make a public offering this year, according to data from IPO manager Renaissance Capital. But the most recent "unicorn," a privately held company worth more than $1 billion, to go public faced a tepid reaction. Shares of data storage company Pure Storage fell in their first day of trading earlier this month, a worrisome sign since the IPO gave the company a $3.1 billion market cap that nearly matched its valuation in the private market. On top of that, some investors said Square should have done more to lay out how Dorsey plans to split his time between the two companies and failed to address worries that Square will be neglected as Dorsey tends to Twitter. "The CEO is still kind of an unbelievable question mark," Gaskins said. "It's a tough business and they are going to need a CEO that focuses 100 percent on the business." Square started as a payments company, offering small businesses a way to accept credit card payments through a "dongle" for mobile devices. It has evolved to offer a suite of business services, ranging from loans to invoice software. It is also targeting larger businesses, which offer Square more revenue. END OF STARBUCKS PARTNERSHIP A critical part of Square's revenue, however, is set to end next year. Square's partnership with Starbucks brought in $123 million last year, or 14 percent of the company's total sales. Square set a nominal fundraising target of $275 million for the IPO. The amount of money a company says it plans to raise in its first IPO filings is used to calculate registration fees, but the final IPO size is often different. In the filing, the company also said it will also have two classes of shares: Class B shares for executives, employees and other existing shareholders that will have a majority of voting power at the company, and Class A shares, which will be offered to the public in the IPO. Google made a similar offering in its 2004 IPO. Square said it would apply to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SQ". Goldman Sachs & Co, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Jefferies are among the underwriters for the offering, Square said. Square's filing positions the company for an IPO towards the end of the year, usually an undesirable time with the holidays and suggesting to some investors that the deal is forced. Several sources have told Reuters that Square is under pressure from shareholders to go public before the end of the year for tax considerations. -Reuters
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