Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Still Beating the IPO Drum

Could Hulu really go public? Absolutely! That’s the line Hulu has been putting out for months now, and Reuters has an update: The news service says the video site is contemplating raising up to $300 million, at a $2 billion valuation, via a 2011 IPO.

If that’s the case, we could see a prospectus filed by the end of 2010, with the help of Morgan Stanley.

Except! It may not happen at all, Reuters acknowledges: An IPO “is one of several options under consideration” and “their options include attracting other media companies to contribute new programming or raising more money from existing partners.”

So maybe, maybe not.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Hulu needs more money to help secure more content so it can keep competing against Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL), among others.
  • At some point, Hulu needs to be able to offer liquidity to its early employees.
  • Convincing public investors that Hulu’s three broadcast owners — Disney’s (DIS) ABC, News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox and GE’s (GE) NBC (soon to be Comcast’s NBC)–is theoretically possible. Because they have an obvious incentive to make it work. But all three companies continue to send signals that indicate they have mixed feelings about the JV. Which will make an IPO awfully tricky.

Big money + conflict makes for good drama, no? If they put it on the air, I’d watch.

Meanwhile, here’s a clip from “The Office,” which I haven’t been able to see this season but plan to watch on Hulu sooner than later. Not coincidentally, this kind of catch-up viewing is the service’s strong suit:

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik