Roku Inc., the maker of set-top boxes that connect TVs to the Internet, is weighing an initial public offering in the U.S. this year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
A decision to move ahead hasn’t been made, and the Saratoga, California-based company hasn’t selected a lead banker, said the people, who requested anonymity because the discussions are private. Roku recently spoke with banks about the possibility of doing an IPO, one person said.
Tricia Mifsud, a Roku spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying the company is closely held and doesn’t discuss future financing plans as a matter of policy.
Roku may position itself as a pure-play company selling an Internet TV device, in contrast to Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), which sells the Apple TV box and other electronics products, one person said. Roku also competes with game consoles and some TV makers providing Web access on sets. All are vying for the growing audience for online services such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX:US), including people who don’t want traditional pay TV.
The Roku player takes Internet videos, such as from Netflix and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US), and streams them to TV sets. Researcher Parks Associates said last year that 37 percent of households with a streaming media system use Roku as their primary device, compared with 24 percent for Apple TV. Roku also licenses its technology to television manufacturers.
Anthony Wood, Roku’s founder and chief executive offficer, was hired by Netflix in 2007 to help the movie-rental company transition to an online service from mail order. Netflix planned to release its own box until CEO Reed Hastings decided to stay out of the hardware business. Wood created a separate company that Netflix backed with $6 million.
In May 2013, Roku received $60 million in new funding from Hearst Corp. and an unidentified institutional investor. They joined Menlo Ventures, News Corp., British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) and others backers who previously financed the company.
Wood said in an interview at the time that the company had sufficient cash and that going public was “not a priority for us right now.”
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