SeatGeek has filed confidential IPO documents with the SEC, according to someone familiar with details, one year after the ticketing company’s attempt to go public via acquisition was jettisoned in the final hours.
SeatGeek, which recently raised money at a $1 billion valuation, submitted the paperwork earlier this month, said the person, who was granted anonymity because the details are private.
The confidential IPO process, different from the more traditional IPO route, allows for more privacy and gives companies more options about when—and if—to make their offering. The filing earlier this month doesn’t mean SeatGeek is rushing to go public, the person said.
A representative for SeatGeek declined to comment. The news was first reported by The Information.
The confidential IPO process was created by legislation in 2012, originally for small businesses but now open to companies of any size. It allows a business to avoid the embarrassment of deciding not to go ahead with an IPO. It also has the advantage of a much shorter waiting time before a company can begin its roadshow to drum up institutional investor enthusiasm for the offering. With a confidential IPO, companies have to wait just 15 days after their public filing with the SEC to approach potential qualified buyers. Lyft, Uber and AirBNB are among the companies that have gone public via this option.
Under a traditional IPO process, companies have to file months in advance publicly, a period where competitors can use information in the prospectus to adjust their business plans and even use lawsuits to try and delay the IPO. The downside, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania, is that confidential IPOs appear somewhat less successful than traditional ones because both institutional and retail investors haven’t had time to reach a comfort level with the new business and therefore don’t bid as strongly for shares at the offering.
SeatGeek nearly went public last year, after it struck a $1.35 billion deal with RedBall Acquisition Corp., a SPAC led by Gerry Cardinale and Billy Beane. The merger was called off just hours before shareholders were set to vote on it, becoming one of many casualties of the market when it turned against SPAC deals. Both sides said the decision was mutual.
SeatGeek had revenue of $186.3 million in 2021, $33.2 million in COVID-disrupted 2020 and $142.2 million in 2019, according to an SEC filing released as part of the SPAC deal. The company later said it was on pace to double its revenue in 2022.
Two months after the RedBall deal fell apart, SeatGeek raised $238 million at a $1 billion valuation. Investors included Accel (a prior backer), plus Arctos Sports Partners, Wellington Management and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith.
SeatGeek was founded in 2009 as a mobile-first ticketing platform. Its business originally centered around secondary sales, but the company became an early advocate for open ticketing networks—where fans can purchase verified tickets across many different websites and platforms—and it is now pushing its tech advantage to assist teams with ticketing and broader fan experiences.
The company’s prior investors include Eli and Peyton Manning; Carmelo Anthony’s Melo7 Tech; the rapper Nas; Elysian Park Ventures, the fund backed by the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and Causeway, whose principals include Boston Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Mark Wan. SeatGeek has deals across all five major U.S. leagues, and major European soccer.
Some of SeatGeek’s biggest competitors are public. They include LiveNation/Ticketmaster (NYSE: LYV) and Vivid Seats (Nasdaq: SEAT).