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Venture firm set to score on Angie's List, Groupon IPOs

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Battery Ventures’ investments in Angie’s List Inc. and Groupon Inc. have produced more than $440 million in paper profit after the Internet-commerce companies sold shares to the public this month.

Stock in Angie’s List, the consumer-review service, jumped 25 percent, to $16.26 per share, in its debut Thursday, giving the Indianapolis-based company a valuation of $904 million. That values Battery’s $35 million investment from 2008 at $139.4 million, not including some shares it already sold.

Roger Lee, a general partner at Battery and an Angie’s List board member, also orchestrated his firm’s $58 million investment in Groupon, which has ballooned into a stake worth $396 million. With the investments, Battery wagered that Angie’s List and Groupon would help companies that had previously struggled to reach customers online, Lee said.

“Over time, services would emerge that would allow consumers and merchants to find each other and conduct local commerce on the Web,” said Lee, who is based in Battery’s Menlo Park, Calif., office. “We always thought that would be a really big opportunity.”

Battery’s returns are being bolstered by a resurgent IPO market. IPOs are poised to raise the most money in six months in November following an 11 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index last month. Groupon raised $700 million on Nov. 3, the biggest IPO by a U.S. Web company since Google Inc. sold shares in 2004. Angie’s List raised $114 million.

Battery invested a combined $93 million in the two companies. As of yesterday’s close, the holdings were worth $535 million. The firm sold 403,224 Angie’s List shares in the offering, worth $5.24 million based on the $13 offer price, and had sold some stock before the IPO.

For Battery to secure the gains, the companies’ stock prices need to hold up for at least six months, the period during which insiders are barred from selling. While Groupon remains above its offer price, the shares have dropped 5.1 percent since their first day of trading.

Both companies also face competition, including from each other. Angie’s List, which provides reviews of plumbers, electricians and other professionals, introduced a service last year, The Big Deal, which lets users sign up for discounts on local services. In its prospectus, the company says it competes with Groupon and LivingSocial, the two biggest daily-deal providers. Yelp Inc., a consumer-review website, announced plans Thursday to raise as much as $100 million in an IPO.

Battery, founded in 1983, has offices in Menlo Park; Waltham, Mass.; and Herzliya, Israel. The firm raised a $750 million fund last year for investments in technology and clean-energy companies. It previously raised a fund of the same amount in 2007. That one includes the Angie’s List investment and part of the Groupon stake.

Through March 31, the 2007 fund had gained 7.1 percent annually, according to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a Battery Investor.

Lee, 40, joined Battery in 2001 and focuses on software, Internet and digital-media companies. His other investments include online-payment service TrialPay Inc., Internet- advertising company FreeWheel Media Inc., and online Web game company World Golf Tour Inc.

Before Battery, Lee spent 10 years at technology companies and was co-founder of Corio Inc., which was sold to International Business Machines Corp. in 2005.
 

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