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DivX IPO: The fight for digital dominance
DivX is going public, and it has big plans for creating the ultimate digital operating system.
By Grace Wong, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With online videos hotter than ever, the timing apparently couldn't be better for the market debut of digital media firm DivX.

The San Diego-based company, which has built its business around delivering digital video, aims to raise as much as $104 million when it lists on the Nasdaq next week. It plans to trade under the ticker "DIVX."

TECHNOLOGY

About 27 percent of DivX's total shares will be offered, with shares expected to price between $12 and $14 a share. That would value the total company at about $468 million. In comparison, RealNetworks (Charts), which offers a competing video format, has a market capitalization of about $1.6 billion.

The offering comes amid a voracious demand for user-generated and professional online video content. Video sharing sites like YouTube have experienced viral growth. Amazon (Charts) and Apple (Charts) have unveiled movie download services, and Wal-Mart (Charts), the world's largest retailer and seller of movie DVDs, is eyeing its own service.

"DivX is a company that's benefiting from what's happening on the Internet and the growth of video," said Tom Taulli, author of "Investing in IPOs."

DivX develops technology that compresses digital video to a size that makes it easy to transport across the Internet while maintaining high visual quality. The company's video software has been downloaded more than 200 million times, according to its own estimates. It also has also been expanding into content production and recently launched Stage6, its own online video sharing site.

The bulk of its revenue, however, comes from licensing its technology to consumer electronics manufacturers. About 82 percent of the company's total sales last year were generated by licenses to hardware device makers like Philips Electronics (Charts) and Samsung and software vendors.

DivX's ultimate goal? To build a digital media "ecosystem" across a range of devices and platforms (i.e. a DivX-encoded movie from your computer can be transferred and played on a DivX-enabled DVD player in the living room).

DivX is well positioned to benefit from converging digital technology, but it's a competitive market. "They have a great product, but anyone with the capability is trying to take away their customers," Francis Gaskins, president of IPOdesktop.com, said.

Big competitors like Apple, Google (Charts) and News Corp. (Charts) are all making a concentrated push into the digital media space and have deeper resources at their disposal.

DivX may be small but it's growing furiously. Sales rose to $27.3 million in the six months ended June 30, nearly double the amount from the same period last year. The fledgling company also is profitable, posting net income of $5.9 million in the latest six-month period.

Elsewhere in the IPO market, two other technology firms are seeking to make their debut next week. Data management software provider CommVault expects to raise about $75 million, while Riverbed Technology is set to go public in an offering expected to generate $57 million for the firm.

Ethanol producer Hawkeye Holdings also is poised to make its market debut. It's been a rocky ride for ethanol offerings this year. VeraSun Energy (Charts) and Aventine Renewable (Charts) both priced above expectations when they went public earlier this year, but VeraSun has tumbled 26 percent from its offering price while Aventine has plunged 44 percent.


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