Wayfair files its plans for IPO (at long last)

Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steven Conine
Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steven Conine


IPO Wayfair

The much-anticipated initial public offering of high-flying Boston e-commerce firm Wayfair is in motion, with a filing from the company that shows intentions to raise up to $350 million.

The filing sets the stage for Wayfair to go public as soon as this fall. If the company succeeds at raising $350 million, the offering would be one of the largest tech IPOs in Boston in recent memory.

It comes after years of discussion in Boston about the potential for the home goods e-tailer to become a long-lasting player in the region’s tech economy—with an IPO as the next logical step (a few recent examples of the discussion are here and here). As I wrote in March, IPOs by Wayfair and other local up-and-comers “could spell a new era for Boston tech, which has long seen its many of its most promising tech startups bought out by West Coast giants, often ending their growth sprees.”

Despite Boston’s highly active tech sector, Wayfair would be just the third venture-backed tech company in Boston to go public in the past two years, following Care.com in January and Imprivata in June.

The filing also comes during a week that saw Wayfair showing off its new, larger office in Back Bay—which the company says it has already outgrown. The firm employs 900 in Boston.

Among the details newly disclosed by the filing:

• Revenue for the first half of this year was $574 million—putting the company on track to exceed the $915 million in revenue from 2013.

• The company generated a net loss of $51.4 million during the first half of the year, far above the $8.3 million net loss Wayfair saw during the same period a year earlier; for all of 2013, Wayfair had a net loss of $15.5 million

• Top institutional shareholders include Great Hill Partners (11.4 percent of shares), HarbourVest Partners (7 percent), Battery Ventures (6 percent), and Spark Capital (4.4 percent)

Wayfair has raised $363 million in equity funding, all of it since 2011 (including a $157 million round disclosed in March). That makes the company the best-funded among privately held Boston tech companies. The firm was founded in 2002 by chief executive Niraj Shah and chief technology officer Steven Conine.

Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wayfair is among the companies that are waiting to go public until e-commerce giant Alibaba gets its IPO out of the way. A Wayfair spokesperson said the firm cannot comment since it’s now entered the obligatory IPO quiet period.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the IPO for expanding its business, possibly including the acquisition of other companies. It intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “W.”

The firm’s annual revenue has grown from $517 million in 2011. That year, the company switched from its original strategy of operating disparate online storefronts—each for a niche category of products—to selling all of its products through Wayfair.com. The company, which had operated more than 240 online storefronts, had previously been known as CSN Stores.

Dennis Keohane contributed to this report.

Read more: Boston’s next 12 tech IPOs?

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
Follow Kyle on Twitter