August 15, 2013

Charleston Software Firm Benefitfocus Files Plans For IPO

John McDermott  /  Post and Courier

Another Daniel Island technology business is preparing to go public.

Charleston-based software provider Benefitfocus filed paperwork Wednesday to register its long-awaited stock offering. It plans to raise up to $75 million.

"The principal purposes of this offering are to increase our financial flexibility, increase our visibility in the marketplace and create a public market for our common stock," Benefitfocus said in a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Without elaborating, the 13-year-old tech company said it expects to use the sale proceeds "for working capital purposes and other general corporate purposes, including executing our growth strategy, developing new products and services, and funding additional capital expenditures, potential acquisitions, and investments."

The timing of the stock sale and the number of shares to be sold was not disclosed. The company plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol BNFT.

Founded in Mount Pleasant and led by CEO Shawn Jenkins and executive chairman Mason Holland, Benefitfocus has grown into an anchor of the local technology scene. It develops and sells workplace software products that employees can use to compare, sign up for and manage their workplace benefits, such as medical coverage.

Its primary customers include large employers and insurance companies.

The company, which is controlled by affiliates of Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs & Co., has not turned a profit in the last three years. Losses have totaled about $32 million since 2010, the filing showed. Sales last year jumped 19 percent from 2011 to $81.7 million. Benefitfocus reported a net loss of $15 million on $48 million in revenue for the first half of 2013.

Speculation about an initial public offering picked up steam in April, several months after the company expanded into a second building at its Daniel Island campus.

Benefitfocus said in the filing Wednesday that it has 824 employees spread among its local office and its outposts in the Upstate, Oklahoma and San Francisco. Its headquarters are just down the road on Daniel Island from the corporate office of Blackbaud Inc., which went public in 2004 and was the last true IPO by a Charleston-based company.