Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s The Tech IPO You’ve Been Looking For: A Debt-Ridden Collection of Porn Sites And Social Networks

What kind of tech and media company tries to go public in this economy? A tech and media company with no other options.

That’s the story behind yesterday’s filing by FriendFinder Networks Inc., a collection of porn sites and adult networks that wants to raise $460 million via the public markets.

Given that the media industry is in the dumps, the tech IPO market was closed even before the economy’s collapse and that the prospects of floating any kind of offering in the public markets is dicey at best, it would be hard to find a worse time to try this route. But FriendFinder doesn’t have much choice: It has very little cash and a lot of debt.

The details: The money-losing company has $43 million in cash, and $420 million in short-term debt. Some of that debt is already in default and the company has breached loan covenants for some loans as well. Presumably the company can’t find anyone to lend it that much, so it’s hoping that the equity markets step up.

If investors bail it out, almost all of the IPO proceeds will go to paying down that debt. If not… well, that “could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern.”

Anyone still thinking about helping out Daniel C. Staton and Marc H. Bell, who run the company and own more than half of its equity? Read the full registration statement here.

[UPDATE: FriendFinder investors get a bonus: Partial ownership of a $95,000 car the company bought from a founder a couple years ago for $125,000.]


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald