TiVo Hits Jackpot with Stock Offering

Think there's a huge market for personal video recorders, or PVRs? So does Wall Street. On September 30, TiVo Inc., the Sunnyvale, California-based maker of hard-disk time-shifters, earned more than $88 million with an initial public stock offering. TiVo shares rose from an opening price of $13.94 to $29.94 each in the first day of trading, a gain of 87%. A total of 5.5 million shares were sold at $16 each.

TiVo's PVR, like that of its rival, RePlay Networks, Inc., allows users to pause and review segments of TV broadcasts in real or delayed time. They also allow cable operators and other local networks to insert their own commercials, a feature at the heart of a lawsuit against the company by several networks.

Legal technicalities did not deter investors, however. Underwritten by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures LLC, NBC Multimedia Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston, and BancBoston Robertson Stephens, the launch gained the technology startup a market valuation of $1.1 billion.

Investors obviously believe in the company's future, despite an accumulated loss of $21.9 million, quarterly revenues of only $8000, and a base of only 1000 subscribers. PVRs are expected to be one of the hottest new categories in consumer electronics. As many as 200,000 of the devices may be sold this year and 1.6 million next year, according to industry researcher International Data Corp. The market for PVRs could reach 9.6 million units a year within three years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sony Corp. and Philips Electronics, both of which have invested in the company, make TiVo's boxes. RePlay's machines are made by Panasonic's parent company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.