AppLovin Files S-1 As Gaming Companies Continue March To Public Markets

Mobile tech company AppLovin has filed for an IPO, joining a steady stream of video game companies going public. 

AppLovin was founded in 2011, and wasn’t initially able to raise any venture capital, CEO Adam Foroughi wrote in a letter included in the S-1. Without venture dollars, the company bootstrapped, committed to “profitable growth,” and was able to achieve positive cash flows from its operating activities every year since 2013, Foroughi wrote.

The company, based in Palo Alto, did eventually raise money from investors. Among the largest stockholders in the company are KKR, Hontai App Fund Limited Partnership and Angel Pride Holdings Limited. Other investors in the company include Streamlined Ventures and Nimble Ventures, according to Crunchbase.

AppLovin makes tools for mobile app developers and has a portfolio of 200 free mobile games. The company reported about $1.45 billion in revenue in 2020, up from $994.1 million in 2019. While the company was profitable in 2019, its 2020 losses came out to about $125 million.

Developers in more than 125 countries use AppLovin’s platform, which reaches more than 410 million daily active users, according to the company.

The tech company falls somewhere in the space of software and video game development, both active areas in the world of tech IPOs. In the gaming world, notable companies like Unity Technologies, Playtika and Roblox have gone or are in the process of going public, with Roblox expected to begin trading on the public markets through a direct listing next week.

In the world of public markets, this year so far has been notable for the record number of SPACs that have been formed and filed to go public. But in the past week traditional IPOs are starting to ramp up, too. Coinbase, DigitalOcean, Compass and Vizio are among the companies that have filed for IPOs in the past few days.

AppLovin also joins Vizio as another company to go public after an acquisition by a Chinese firm failed to go through back in 2017. AppLovin was supposed to be acquired by Chinese private-equity firm Orient Hontai Capital in 2016 for $1.4 billion, but in 2017 Reuters reported the deal didn’t materialize because of opposition by the United States government, which was apparently more reluctant to approve deals like AppLovin’s since President Donald Trump was sworn into office. Vizio was also supposed to be acquired by a Chinese company (LeEco) before the deal was scrapped in 2017 because of a “Chinese policy factor,” according to Reuters.

Interestingly, both have filed to go public the same week. 

Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are among the underwriters for the IPO. The company has applied to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker APP. 

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