Sogou Gears Up for IPO

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Sogou has filed an amended F-1 form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO). The company expects to price its 45 million American depositary shares (ADSs) in the range of $11 to $13, with an overallotment option for an additional 6.75 million ADSs. Each ADS represents one ordinary share. At the maximum price, the entire offering is valued up to $672.75 million. The company intends to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SOGO.

The underwriters for the offering are JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, CICC and China Renaissance.

This company is an innovator in search and a leader in China’s internet industry. Its Sogou Search is the second largest search engine in China by mobile queries and it is the fourth largest internet company in China based on monthly active users (MAU) in September 2017, according to iResearch.

Sogou Search had a 17.8% market share in China, based on mobile queries in September 2017, as compared to 15.2% in March 2017 and 16.9% in June 2017. Meanwhile, its mobile search MAU increased from 473 million in March 2017, to 483 million in June 2017, and further to 511 million in September 2017. The company has grown significantly, with total search page views having grown by 28.0% and mobile search page views having grown by 71.9% on an annualized basis from September 2014 to September 2017.

In the filing, the company described its finances as follows:

We have recorded substantial revenue growth, with an increase from US$386.4 million in 2014 to US$591.8 million in 2015 and US$660.4 million in 2016 and an increase from US$488.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2016 to US$630.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. We generate revenues primarily from search and search-related advertising services, which represented 90.4% and 87.9%, respectively, of our total revenues in the year ended December 31, 2016 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2017.

Sogou intends to use the net proceeds from this offering to continue to strengthen its product development, artificial intelligence and big data capabilities, while also putting proceeds toward sales and marketing efforts. The remainder will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes.