Claria, PlanetOut Put Brakes on IPOs

Desktop advertising firm Claria and gay media firm PlanetOut both put the brakes on their initial public offering plans, citing difficult market conditions. The decisions come just prior to Google’s IPO, which has been suffering through some difficult conditions of its own.

Claria withdrew its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday, saying it had decided not to go through with its IPO at this time. The company said it might still undertake an IPO in the future. The company originally filed with the SEC in April, and said then it hoped to raise $150 million.

PlanetOut, for its part, didn’t withdraw its registration statement, but said it would postpone the offering. “Given the current difficult market for initial offerings, we feel the appropriate value of the company would not be realized through an IPO at this time,” said Lowell Selvin, chairman and CEO of PlanetOut, in a statement.

PlanetOut also originally filed to go public in April and had gone so far as to say it expected its shares to go for between $12 and $14 each. The company had hoped to raise $54.6 million.

Google’s recent difficulties in the press might have been a factor in the two firms’ decisions. Though the search company’s initial plans for an IPO were met with great excitement, the tide of public sentiment seems to have turned against the company as of late. Some potential investors in Google’s IPO balked at the high price range set for the unusual Dutch auction-style offering — $108 to $135 per share — apparently concerned about the shares’ upside potential. Google, for its part, is reportedly trudging forward with its own market debut.

Claria and PlanetOut were among a number of Internet marketing-related firms to file for an IPO amidst the initial Google-related exuberance. Two of the most well known, Advertising.com and Brightmail, were snapped up by larger players — America Online and Symantec, respectively — before they made their debut.

The recent, generally disappointing, round of second quarter earnings reports haven’t been a help to aspiring public companies, either. In the Internet marketing arena, Yahoo led off by failing to blow past expectations — which is the typical Yahoo fashion — thereby disappointing investors. Others in the sector have followed suit, with some lowering full-year guidance and talking of seasonality, amidst a fairly gloomy general market environment.

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