Buy.com (Nasdaq: BUYX) announced late Friday that founder Scott A. Blum will buy all outstanding shares in the e-tailer, ending its turbulent 18-month run as a public company.
Blum, through a corporation called SB Acquisition, offered 17 cents each — Friday’s closing price — for all outstanding shares of Buy.com. The company’s shares have traded as high as US$35 during the past year-and-a-half.
Buy.com said its board of directors has approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of November pending shareholder approval.
In conjunction with the buyout, SB Acquisition will provide Buy.com with US$9 million in short-term financing.
With about 136 million shares outstanding, according to the Aliso Viejo, California-based Internet retailer, the deal is valued at around $23 million. That value is a fraction of the $209 million Buy.com raised through its initial public offering.
In fact, after its stock price rose more than 90 percent during its first day of trading on February 7, 2000, Buy.com boasted a market capitalization of more than $3 billion.
Additionally, even before Blum took the e-tailer public, Buy.com had garnered about $225 million in venture funding from Softbank.
But despite rapid expansion to the UK, Canada and Australia, and abundant praise from consumers and the trade press for its selection and prices, Buy.com soon started to slip, a decline that accelerated when the Nasdaq began its own lengthy descent.
Analysts, meanwhile, continually questioned Buy.com’s approach of selling items at or below cost in order to attract Web traffic that in turn could be used to sell advertising.
By early this year, the e-tailer was laying off workers and watching its chief executive officer and several board members depart abruptly.
The Nasdaq stock exchange informed Buy.com in June that it would be delisted. At the time, Morningstar.com analyst David Kathman predicted Buy.com would find it nearly impossible to obtain additional funding.
And like a host of other dot-coms, Buy.com has been sued by shareholders for allegedly working unlawfully with underwriters to drive up the price of its IPO.
Back in the Saddle
Blum served as CEO of Buy.com until leaving the company to run ThinkTank, an e-business incubator also backed by Softbank.
Blum did not reveal his plans for Buy.com, but the ThinkTank Web site indicates that the e-tailer will remain one of its member companies going forward.
According to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Blum sold more than 1.5 million Buy.com shares in several transactions during early February at prices of 50 cents to 72 cents each, generating more than $600,000.