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Matt Barrie, chief executive of Freelancer.com, in his office at Jones Bay Wharf.

Matt Barrie, chief executive of Freelancer image www.socialselect.net

Photo: Louie Douvis

Freelancer.com chief executive and founder Matt Barrie has turned down numerous acquisition offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars and instead opted to list his company on the Australian stock exchange.

“It’s way too early for me to put my feet up and sit by the beach,” Mr Barrie, 40, said from his Sydney office.

As foreshadowed by Fairfax Media last week, the CEO has decided to turn down one of the largest acquisition offers the company has received to date – $US400 million ($430 million) by Japanese recruitment site Recruit Co. – and instead list on the local stock exchange by the end of the year.

Speaking with Fairfax Media on Wednesday, Barrie said the decision was made “after careful consideration”.

KTM Capital will be the brokers and underwriters for the initial public offering (IPO).

The announcement of Freelancer’s intention to list came on day one of Australia’s first technology start-up festival, Startup Spring, which will see more than 100 events and activities held around Australia to celebrate and promote the local start-up community.

The Freelancer listing is likely to create a number of new Australian millionaires, with Mr Barrie telling Fairfax Media he will open up an employee share scheme. It will also make rich early investors in his company, including Australian technology entrepreneur Simon Clausen, who now lives in Switzerland and founded PC Tools, which was sold to Symantec for $US262 million.

It is understood Mr Barrie is eyeing a valuation close to $1 billion on the ASX, although he wouldn’t comment on this due to there being a blackout period before and after filing a prospectus for an IPO. Such a prospectus had yet to be filed, he said.

“I think it’s the right time for the company to go out there and raise some money,” Mr Barrie said. “It’s the right time to go out there and put the foot on the pedal to go out there and landgrab.”

Barrie said he wanted the ASX listing to pave the way for other technology companies “in whatever stage of their life cycle” to come to the ASX as a place to raise funds rather than all go overseas, “which is a traditional Australian venture capital model that I think is somewhat broken”.

He decided to list on the Australian stock exchange because it was “a national imperative” to build the technology industry locally, he said, and because more money had been raised by companies on the ASX than on the Nasdaq.

“We need to build the sector here and build some companies up and really build the industry up,” he said. “To a certain extent I’m putting my money where my mouth is and doing this.”

Freelancer claims to be the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace, allowing users to post projects online, which freelancers then bid to carry out. More than 9 million users have signed up with more than 4 million projects posted since the firm launched in 2009, its website says. It takes a cut on all jobs listed.

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After months of speculation, Twitter has finally set its initial public offering in motion.

twitter logo  blue on black image www.socialselect.net

A few minutes ago, Twitter sent out a tweet on its own Twitter account saying that it had “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.”

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the news to CNET but didn’t elaborate.

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By saying that the filing was “confidentially” submitted to the SEC, Twitter was taking advantage of a provision under the 2012 JOBS Act which allows companies to file a registration with the SEC and then get feedback from the SEC on the filing. This is a JOBS Act benefit allowed companies with annual revenue of under $1 billion in their most recent fiscal year. “Only after that give and take,” said Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida, “if they still want to go public…is it required to file a public registration that the world can see.”

The seven-year-old Twitter, which to date has raised $1.16 billion in venture capital, and which employs more than 2,000 people, currently has more than 200 million monthly active users. It was recently forecasted by eMarketer to come close to $1 billion in advertising revenue in 2014. EMarketer also anticipated that Twitter will net 1.85 percent — or roughly $308 million — of the $16.65 billion worldwide mobile ad market this year.

By going through the confidential process, Ritter said, Twitter was indicating that it is highly confident it will go ahead with its IPO. That’s because otherwise, it risks the embarrassment of having the IPO fall apart, something that would not be the case if it hadn’t said anything. However, it’s also likely that Twitter was trying to get out in front of speculation that it was preparing its IPO.

According to Ritter, the timing of Twitter’s announcement today suggests that it is roughly three months from going public. About a month from now, he added, Twitter will likely file its formal registration statement.

Twitter’s announcement comes at a time when the climate for Internet IPOs has markedly improved. In the first months after Facebook’s initially disastrous IPO, most thought that Twitter’s hopes for going public had sunk with Facebook’s stock. But just yesterday, Facebook’s stock, on the strength of dramatically improved mobile revenues, hit its all-time high. Indeed, in an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt yesterday, Facebook CEO said Twitter should not be afraid of going public.

Twitter’s IPO fortunes have generally been tied to that of Facebook because of the similarities of the two companies. In a recent report, Pew found that as of May 2013, 72 percent of online U.S. adults use social networking sites, up from 67 percent in late 2012. Clearly, then, the market for companies like Facebook and Twitter is growing.

Twitter, too, has been preparing for its IPO for quite some time, acquiring companies and making feature decisions geared towards maximizing revenues

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Henry Sapiecha

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HEARSAY SOCIAL TO EXPAND WORLDWIDE AFTER RAISING $30M CAPITAL

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(Reuters) – Internet company Hearsay Social has raised $30 million in funding which it said would help accelerate product development and international expansion.

San Francisco-based Hearsay said on Thursday that its latest round of funding came from venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and NEA, which have both previously invested in the company.

Hearsay, whose tools help businesses use social networks such as Facebook Inc, LinkedIn Corp and Twitter to generate sales, said it has more than doubled its number of customers during the last twelve months, adding financial services firms such as Raymond James, Bank of the West and Nationwide Insurance among others.

With roughly 100 employees, Hearsay expects to increase its work force and its product capabilities to better target customers in various industries and geographic regions, Chief Executive Clara Shih told Reuters. Shih said that Hearsay would also be more aggressive in acquiring other companies.

Founded in 2009, Hearsay has raised $51 million to date.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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Henry Sapiecha

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