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ExactTarget soars in trading debut after initial public offering

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ExactTarget Inc., the e-mail marketing company that counts Microsoft Corp. and Groupon Inc. as customers, gained 32 percent in its trading debut Thursday after pricing its initial public offering above the range.

The stock surged 25 percent, to $23.72 a share, about an hour after the opening bell, and reached $24.60 by early afternoon before closing at $25.11.

ExactTarget, based in Indianapolis, raised $161.5 million by selling 8.5 million shares at $19 apiece Wednesday after initially offering them for $15 to $17 each, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Company CEO Scott Dorsey, who kicked off trading Thursday morning by ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, said the company’s strong opening is a testament to the company he helped build.

“It feels great,” Dorsey said about going public. “It’s a little bit surreal, to be honest. I’m still floating a couple feet off the ground.”

Many of ExactTarget’s 1,100 employees saw Dorsey ring the bell via a broadcast they watched at Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.

Dorsey co-founded ExactTarget in 2000 with Christopher Baggott and didn't initially intend to take the company public. But the access to capital the company will now have to fund growth proved too alluring.

“It’s not only a great moment for our company,” Dorsey said, “but a great moment for the city and the tech community.”

ExactTarget offers software tools that businesses can use for marketing via e-mail, websites and social media, according to its prospectus. The company, led by CEO Scott Dorsey, lost money in three of the past five years, with a net loss of $35.4 million in 2011. Sales increased 55 percent last year to $207.5 million.

ExactTarget is at least the sixth software company to go public in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Demandware Inc., which helps retailers create and manage websites to sell their products, has risen 61 percent since its debut last week.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Stifel Financial Corp. led the offering. Technology Crossover Ventures, which held about 26 percent of ExactTarget before the sale, now holds about 22 percent.

ExactTarget plans to use proceeds from the sale for general purposes, including expanding sales and marketing and overseas operations. The shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ET.
 

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