Expect more venture capital funding for Research In Motion-wannabe Visto, a wireless-email software company any minute now. CEO Brian Bogosian is once again telling any hack who will listen that the company is on an imminent path to an IPO. Bogosian's drummed up over $300 million in funding repeating the same line every couple of months since 2004. Don't expect an actual IPO this time either, a tipster tells us. "That would require some uncomfortable scrutiny," he writes. Here's a rundown of Visto's not-so-virtuous cycle.
Our source tells us Bogosian has been "spouting this imminent IPO line for years. It's all he talked about in all-hands meeting when I was there."
2004, "Visto takes aim at Blackberry, IPO" by Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch:
With enough cash in the bank for now, Visto will likely produce positive cash flow and net income by the middle of next year as it adds customers, including a major wireless operator in October, [Bogosian] said. Visto hopes to be one of the few entrants in the current one-deal-at-a-time IPO market.
2005, "Venture-Capitalists Think Large," by Rebecca Buckman, Wall Street Journal:
Visto hopes to go public during the next 12 to 18 months, but isn't in a big hurry. "You don't want to be one of those, 'I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up' companies," says Visto's chairman, president and chief executive, Brian A. Bogosian. So the company, which sells software that enables email to be sent to cellphones, will use its new venture cash to keep growing and move toward profitability. It hopes to break even by the time it goes public.
2006, "Visto plots float as it sues BlackBerry maker" by Tim Webb, The Independent:
US company Visto, which launched the action against RIM last week, is talking to banks about going public next year. Its chief executive, Brian Bogosian, said that a flotation would value the company at "billions of dollars"
2007, "Visto gets 3,000 iPhone email queries, eyes IPO," by Sinead Carew, Reuters:
The executive said he has been talking to bankers about potentially taking the company public next year depending on its growth and profit. "We believe we could IPO in 2008," said Bogosian. "We would expect to be profitable at the time we do an IPO."
You can blame Bogosian for his spin or blame journalists for believing it, but none of this would be possible if venture capital firms hadn't enabled the CEO's habit.
And who's funding the venture capitalist? Why, spendthrift pension funds and university endowments. Which is why, if they're smart, those institutional investors will avoid giving good money to Visto investors Altitude Capital, Oak Investment Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Meritech Capital Partners, Rustic Canyon Ventures, GKM, and Blueprint Ventures. (Photo by Tracy O)