Angry Birds maker Rovio is looking to go public. But it might surprise you just where it plans to do so.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview published today, Rovio's chief marketing officer and "Mighty Eagle" Peter Vesterbacka said that his company plans to go public in 2013 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He cited the Asian market's growth, as well as its "people and the money" to justify the decision.
Rovio has been talking about an IPO for months now, but its focus on Hong Kong is new. Back in May, the company's CEO Mikael Hed told Reuters that Rovio would like hold its IPO on Wall Street in two or three years. Just a couple of months ago, Vesterbacka told Bloomberg Television in an interview that his company was hoping to file for its IPO "a year from now," but didn't say where. Vesterbacka did, however, tell Bloomberg that he expected Rovio to go public at a $1 billion valuation.
Although Rovio is best known for its Angry Birds mobile game--which at last count, tallied 600 million downloads since its launch in 2009--the developer has created a massive business around the franchise. Rovio currently sells stuffed toys, shirts, school supplies, and even cookbooks branded with Angry Birds.
The business model has become so successful, Rovio will generate $100 million in revenue this year, Vesterbacka told Finnish news outlet Tekniikka & Talous in a recent interview (Google Translate page), adding that the company could see that figure grow again next year when it launches five to six new games based on the Angry Birds franchise.
Although Rovio's apparent decision to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange might surprise some investors, it makes some sense, considering how important the Asia market has become to the company. Earlier this year, Rovio announced that China has become its second-largest market behind the U.S., and could account for 100 million Angry Birds downloads by the end of 2011.
That success doesn't necessarily mean investors will jump at the chance to buy Rovio stock. The company is essentially known for a single franchise, which can be viewed as a significant risk to its future. And with countless developers offering new games in the hopes of taking Angry Birds down, there's no telling if Rovio can keep up its success.
But don't tell Vesterbacka that. He told Tekniikka & Talous that Rovio has visions of becoming the Walt Disney Co. of this generation.
"That is the target," he told the news outlet. "There is no reason why we should not be able to build a company of that size."