Freelancer.com, the online marketplace founder Matt Barrie once described as “eBay for jobs”, will list on the ASX by the end of the year.
The announcement puts to rest speculation over whether Barrie would accept a recent $US400 million takeover offer from Japanese group Recruit. Barrie has previously claimed the company is worth upwards of $1 billion.
Barrie confirmed with StartupSmart the listing would go ahead, but also said he would not see the IPO as an exit. In an unusual move, he will instead buy stock and stay on as chief executive.
“I’ve been saying for a few years that it’s a national imperative to build up the technology industry in Australia,” Barrie told StartupSmart, sister publication to SmartCompany.
A successful listing for Freelancer.com would not only be a success story for the company, but the Australian tech industry as a whole. Valuations for tech companies are rising, and a successful Freelancer.com IPO could lead the way for venture capital-backed firms, such as Atlassian, to fulfill their own listings.
A lucrative float could also ease the way for apprehensive investors. Reports have already indicated groups such as Catch of the Day and Kogan have considered IPOs.
“My long-term vision for Freelancer.com is for it to be Australia’s first big global consumer technology company,” Barrie told StartupSmart – adding that of all the current options, an IPO is the best way to achieve that goal.
No target price or valuations have been revealed, although KTM Capital has been appointed to lead the process. A prospectus is set to be filed within the next few months.
Barrie also said the ASX was a “great place” to list, saying more money was raised on the ASX than NASDAQ in the last five years.
The company was founded back in 2009 when Barrie bought and consolidated several other websites. Now, the company has generated over $1 billion worth of jobs for its users with revenue of about $50 million.
Barrie has attracted attention for his stringent managerial methods. He told LeadingCompany earlier this year he “wants people who are hungry”.
“I only want to hire people who want to work with me, then to inspire them, the super-smart, the passionate who take the initiative. I call them poor, hungry, driven,” he said at the time.
While the United States has seen a series of disappointing tech floats, with some exceptions such as LinkedIn, investors are eager to see Australian tech firms try their chances on the public markets.
Software group Atlassian is understood to have been considering an IPO for some time, accelerated by an investment from venture capital group Accel Partners. Reports have also pinned retail groups Catch of the Day and Kogan as considering floats.