September 29, 2011 at 10:57 AM EDT
GrubHub Not Quite Ready to Order an IPO
Online food-ordering service GrubHub is exciting venture capitalists, but it still needs to find its legs before making a public offering.

GrubHub IPOWhile IPOs might be a tough bet for the rest of the year, venture capitalists still are optimistic. They continue to pour huge amounts of money into high-growth companies. And, as seen with the recent public offerings of companies like Zillow (NYSE:Z), HomeAway (NASDAQ:AWAY) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), it still looks like investors are interested in next-generation dot-coms.

So what companies are VCs looking at? One interesting example is GrubHub, which raised $50 million in a new funding. The investors include Lightspeed Ventures, Mesirow Financial, Benchmark Capital, Greenspring Associates and DAG Ventures.

GrubHub got its start back in 2007. The founders met while at Apartments.com but got the entrepreneurial itch. Basically, they saw an opportunity to transform the restaurant business. GrubHub would make it extremely easy to order food online, then have it delivered. The service would be free to users, but companies would be required to pay a commission for each lead.

So how is GrubHub doing? Well, it is hard to tell. But so far, the company has relationships with 15,000 restaurants, with an emphasis primarily on major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

What’s more, GrubHub is using its financial heft to expand via acquisitions. The most recent deal the company made was for Dotmenu, which has an online restaurant service for campuses.

As for an online-based food IPO, GrubHub can point to the success of OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN), the restaurant reservation network. Even though the company has seen a drop in its stock, the valuation still is at a hefty $1.1 billion, or 60 times earnings.

Yes, these kinds of metrics should get VCs excited. Still, in light of the difficulties in the IPO market, GrubHub probably will not unveil an offering until well into 2012.

Tom Taulli is the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” You can also find him at Twitter account @ttaulli. He does not own a position in any of the stocks named here.


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