Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bribery, Corruption and Fictitious Capital

At its peak, InfoSpace was the Northwest's biggest Internet business, worth more than $31 billion. Jain, a man obsessed with being more successful than Bill Gates, was himself worth $8 billion. He bought a palatial waterfront home in Medina down the street from his idol and another nearby on Mercer Island, along with two yachts and a piece of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Naveen Jain grew up in a culture mired in bribery and corruption, yet in a religion that deplores dishonesty.

But memories are short, it seems. After leaving InfoSpace Jain started a new company, Intelius, across the street from his old offices in Bellevue, Washington. The company sells background information on people - they describe themselves as an “information commerce company.” They’ve grown rapidly and now claim that over four million people have purchased products from them. Revenue has grown from $18.1 million in 2004 to $88.5 million in 2007. In their most recent fiscal quarter, ending March 31, 2008 the company had $31.8 million in revenue, a nearly $130 million run rate. They are also very profitable, with $22.5 million in EBITDA in 2007.

It’s no surprise that the company’s revenue growth and profitability have led them to pursue an IPO. Well known investment banks Deutsche Bank and UBS are underwriting the deal, which was first filed with the SEC on January 10. The most recent version of their registration statement, filed on May 19, is here.

Given Jain’s history, you’d think he’d go out of his way to be squeaky clean at his most recent startup, particularly as the company is going public and under significant scrutiny. But that may not be the case.

Well.. the culture and bribery talk is all crap! They deplore Naveen while they seem to think that everything with stock market is legal. in 1920 the whole of the stock market business was illegal cos it creates fictitious capital. -- RK

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