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THE STATE OF SMALL BUSINESS

Candy Crush Hopes for Sweet IPO
 

The game maker King Digital is taking advantage of a sizzling market for IPOs, but with just one blockbuster product, its longevity is anyone's guess.

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You've probably heard this tune before. 

An entrepreneurial tech company cum successful digital game provider files for an initial public offering and hopes to strike it rich. What comes next, however, is anyone's guess.

On Monday, King Digital Entertainment, the maker of runaway hit game Candy Crush Saga, filed for an initial public offering in the U.S.

The filing comes just weeks after the Dublin, Ireland-based company, bizarrely enough, assumed rights to the word "candy" for trademark purposes in the U.S. and the European Union. Although comparisons to the failed public offering of startup game maker Zynga might be inevitable, King has a relatively strong income statement and is likely to benefit from the IPO environment currently favoring small technology companies. King has 665 employees.

On Monday, King filed its F-1, a form foreign companies planning to list on a U.S. exchange must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. King will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KING. Although King did not list an expected price per share, it says it hopes to raise up to $500 million through the offering. The lead underwriter is JP Morgan.

For the full year 2013, King reported $568 million in net income, compared to $8 million in 2012, and a loss of $1.3 million for 2011. It reported $1.9 billion in revenue for 2013, compared to $164 million in 2012, and $64 million in 2011.

King formerly operated as subsidiary of Midasplayer International Holding Co. But King said it will reorganize prior to the IPO, and will become the holding company for Midasplayer. King's quarterly statements following the IPO will include the financial results of its subsidiaries. King did not say when the IPO would take place other than to say "as soon as possible," following the registration.

In the section about risks to investors, King said "a small number of games currently generate a substantial majority of our revenue." More specifically, three games accounted for 95 percent of "gross bookings," or sales, with Candy Crush Saga making up 78 percent of total sales, and 86 percent of total mobile sales.

King's dependence on one game could be a significant problem if the company fails to develop new games that attract users, particularly if interest in Candy Crush wanes, the company said in its filing.

Zynga, the creator of Farmville, went public in 2011 at $11 a share. It too had strong revenues and earnings potential, but its link to Facebook, which served as a pipeline for many of its players, became a liability. After Facebook's share price fell following its own IPO, Zynga's stock price fell as low as $3. Today it trades for about $5, or half its original value.

 

 

 

 

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Feb 18, 2014

JEREMY QUITTNER is a staff writer for Inc. magazine and Inc.com. He previously covered technology for American Banker and entrepreneurship for BusinessWeek.
@JeremyQuittner




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