RealTime IT News

RedEnvelope Files for IPO

Upscale, online gift retailer RedEnvelope is close to its initial public offering (IPO) now that it has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The San Francisco-based company Friday said it is looking to sell upwards of 2 million common shares with a starting price of $12 to $16 each. Company execs estimate the stock sale could net them $27.8 million. The firm expects to trade under the symbol "REDE".

The company's name comes from a tradition in many Asian countries of presenting special gifts in a red envelope. In the spirit of this tradition, gifts purchased from RedEnvelope are accompanied by a personalized message in a red envelope. Merchandise includes jewelry, gift baskets, personal care products, holiday-oriented gifts, gadgets and tools, and wine and cigars, among other things.

RedEnvelope's premise is to guide customers to the gift they want through its GiftSearch portal, GiftReminder calendar management, and ExpressGifts (guaranteed overnight delivery). The company also provides online customer service, multiple addressing and an inventory system that tracks in real-time to make sure an item featured on the site is available.

Originally founded in 1997 as 911 Gifts, the company relaunched in 1999 under its RedEnvelope moniker and performed well during the boom times of the late 90s. Along with the rest of the online community hit the skids. After the company COO departed in 2001, RedEnvelope staged a turnaround and named a new CEO in May 2002.

According to the prospectus. RedEnvelope has posted net losses of $26.4 million, $14.1 million and $7.7 million for the fiscal years ended April 1, 2001, March 31, 2002, and March 30, 2003, and $1.2 million for the fiscal quarter ended June 29, 2003. As of June 29, 2003, the company said it has amassed a deficit of $74.7 million.

RedEnvelope says it will use the funds raised to buy new equipment and other technology projects. Noted dot-com underwriters WR Hambrecht and Pacific Crest Securities is handling the IPO.