Tickets.com Hopes IPO Will Be An Event

Thanks in part to its pre-Internet brand strength and the high
visibility of entertainment industry mogul and owner Barry Diller,
Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch has captured most of the attention in the
fast-growing market for online events tickets.

But another Internet ticket vendor is preparing to challenge
Ticketmaster (TMCS) with a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign and an
initial public offering scheduled this week.

Tickets.com, a three-year-old company assembled through an aggressive
acquisition strategy, is expected to price 6.7 million shares between $7
and $9 each in hopes of raising $53.6 million for its battle with
Ticketmaster.

The company will trade on the Nasdaq ticker under the symbol TIXX. Lead
underwriter for the IPO is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

Forrester Research estimates that online event ticketing sales will grow
from $300 million this year to $3.9 billion in 2004. Tickets.com touts
this forecast in its S-1 filing, and is pinning hopes for expansion on
growth in the online ticketing market.

As of now, however, Internet-based sales are a small portion of
Tickets.com’s revenue, though they have grown from 4.2% to 8.0% to 8.3%
in the first three quarters of 1999. Nearly 42% of the $36 million in
revenue in the nine months ended Sept. 30 comes from the licensing of
ticketing software and related services.

One problem the company has had is that most of its clients currently
lack a software upgrade necessary to allow them to use Tickets.com’s
Internet ticketing services. The company has only recently begun
shipping the upgrade. This process will put a damper on revenue in the
short-term.

Also, Tickets.com also has a debt build-up that the scheduled IPO will
only begin to ease. Having acquired eight ticketing companies since its
inception in 1996, Tickets.com reports an accumulated deficit to $87.4
million through Sept. 30.

Another thing that investors should know is that Tickets.com is being
sued by Ticketmaster, which claims that when Tickets.com directs a
consumer to an event handled by Ticketmaster, it links them to the
actual purchase page, rather than the Ticketmaster home page, thus
causing the viewer to miss pages with ads.

On the plus side, the company has a well-known investor and partner –
[email protected] (ATHM), which in August announced it would invest $55 million in
Tickets.com. Along with a blue-chip underwriter, the involvement of
[email protected] may bolster investor confidence enough to give Tickets.com a
strong debut.


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