An IPO On The Vine For Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart can make a garden grow and a dinner table glow, but does America’s leading homemaker know the recipe for a perfectly-formed, golden-brown and successful IPO?

We’ll soon find out the answer to that question. Stewart’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, a division of Martha Stewart Living, filed for an IPO that could be valued as high as $100 million (US$).

The $100 million figure was used solely to calculate the fee Stewart’s company would pay the SEC. The company did not say how many shares it would sell or set a price for them.

The papers were filed shortly after Martha Stewart Living announced a $25 million investment in the company from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the same firm which is teaming up with Stewart to offer the IPO.

The firm’s investment gives them a 5 percent stake in the company. It can also exercise a $21 million warrant option to take a 15 percent stake in any Internet venture that Martha Living might spin off.

Looking To Make More Dough

A one-woman industry if ever there was one, Stewart, 57, has almost total control of her company. She holds nearly 100 percent of the company’s voting power through Class B stock — which is allotted 10 votes per share — and will maintain that hold after the IPO because it involves Class A stock, which has one vote per share.

The filing makes it clear that the company is intent on improving its Internet performance. A $180 million-a-year company, Martha Stewart Living produced $14.7 million in e-commerce sales last year. That represents a $10 million rise in revenue over the previous year, but that doesn’t appear to meet the company’s e-commerce expectations.

The company says its Web site has 834,000 registered users. It sells over 2,800 Martha Stewart-branded products, subscriptions to its flagship magazine and affiliated titles and dozens of spin-off books.

Stewart was born in Nutley, New Jersey, one of six children. She went to Barnard College and started a catering company in Connecticut in 1972. Her first book, “Entertaining,” was published in 1982 and launched the meticulous lifestyle maven’s career.

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