Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the viral mobile game 'Angry Birds,' may go public as soon as next year and is worth more than $1 billion, according to the company's chief marketing officer.
We're not ready to file for an IPO tomorrow, said Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio's CMO who also goes by the title Mighty Eagle. Maybe a year from now.
Analysts have also pegged Rovio's valuation at more than $1 billion, but Vesterbacka believes it's probably a bit north of that.
Angry Birds, in which players use a slingshot to launch multi-colored birds at structures populated by evil green pigs, has enjoyed more than 400 million free and paid downloads since 2009. Currently there are three iterations of the game: the classic Angry Birds game, and two special editions called Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio. Angry Birds Seasons features holiday-themed levels for Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and Christmas, while the latter game, Angry Birds Rio, was released as a promotional tie-in with the 20th Century Fox animated film Rio.
In spite of the three available games, people still want more Angry Birds. The company has been growing in size to accommodate this demand by developing Angry Birds-themed toys, accessories, and even movies.
We're insanely profitable, Vesterbacka said. We are very, very profitable. We're not a publicly traded company yet but we can fund our own growth.
Merchandise makes up about 10 to 20 percent of Rovio's business, through plush dolls, toys, apparel, speakers, board games and a lone cookbook. Rovio has also extended the reach of Angry Birds, which was originally only available in Apple's App Store, by porting the game to Facebook, PSP, the Android Market, Palm's App Catalog, Google Chrome and other mobile platforms.
Even Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has praised Angry Birds, for creating an occupation for a huge number of officials who now know what to do with their leisure time.
The company continues to expand. The company recruited Tele2 CEO Harri Koponen to develop merchandise and books, and former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel, producer of the 'Iron Man' films, who has agreed to be an adviser and executive producer of Angry Birds' movies.
Hollywood is hot for the [Angry Birds] brand, said Rovio's North American general manager Andrew Stalbow at TechCrunch Disrupt. There's a very strong focus on Angry Birds to turn it into an entertainment franchise. That's why I joined.
Should Rovio choose to go public in 2012, it would join other social media titans eyeing their own IPOs, including Zynga, Groupon and Facebook. But more so than other gaming companies, Rovio has what it takes to compete in the public market. In less than two years, Rovio has amassed 150 million active users and can fund itself with its ever-growing array of merchandise, given that everything Rovio puts on the shelves subsequently flies off them.
We think we have a good shot at being the first entertainment brand that has a billion fans--people we can talk to and have a dialogue with every day, Vesterbacka said.
Rovio most recently received $42 million in funds in March, from investors like Accel Partners and Niklas Zennstrom's Atomico Ventures. Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said it's very possible the company would have another funding round before going public.
We're still building a lot of our infrastructure, our company, our platform, everything, Vesterbacka said. There's a lot of good discipline in having to be ready to go public.
Rovio has no clear timeframe for a 2012 IPO.