Peter Kafka

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More Tech IPOs: Criteo Files, and Rocket Fuel Is Ready to Start Trading Friday

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that video ad startup YuMe was trading below its $9 IPO price; YUME shares climbed back above $9 last week and closed today at $11.

stock market shutterstock Everett Collection

Here’s another tech company headed for the public markets: French advertising startup Criteo has filed its public IPO documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which means the company could be trading in less than a month.

Criteo’s latest funding round, completed a year ago, valued the company at $800 million.

Like Twitter — and just about every other company that has gone public this year — Criteo filed its initial documents with the SEC in private earlier this year, using cover provided by the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

But, unlike Twitter, the timing of Criteo’s filing isn’t surprising at all, since the ad-tech world has been gabbing about it for months.

Criteo is a retargeting company, which means it helps e-commerce companies track prospects online and show them display ads. Last year, it made a profit of $1 million on sales of $354 million; in the first six months of this year, it lost $6.4 million on sales of $252.7 million.

More than half of Criteo’s top-line dollars go back out the door via traffic-acquisition costs. It spent $205 million on TAC last year, and another $152 million in the first half of 2013.

Criteo, which is based in Paris, wants to list its American Depositary Shares on the Nasdaq under the “CRTO” ticker.

Criteo’s filing follows disappointing public debuts for ad-tech startups this year. Marin Software and Tremor Media are trading below their IPO prices, and the general climate for ad-tech stocks has been lousy enough that Adap.TV chose to sell to AOL instead of following through on its IPO plans.

But now the conventional wisdom is that investors are once again willing to look at companies that combine technology and advertising, at least in some cases — see Facebook’s triumphant return.

We should get a better sense of investors’ appetite for ad tech at the end of this week, when Rocket Fuel, which helps advertisers buy “programmatic” inventory, is supposed to go public. People familiar with the company’s plans said it expects to price its shares on Thursday, and head to the Nasdaq Friday morning.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Everett Collection)

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that video ad startup YuMe was trading below its $9 IPO price; YUME shares climbed back above $9 last week and closed today at $11.


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