Internet TV company Roku hires banks for 2017 IPO: sources

(Reuters) - Internet television company Roku has hired investment banks to lead an initial public offering that could come later this year as it aims for a valuation of more than $1 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

An IPO will test investor’s reception to Roku, the brainchild of digital video recorder (DVR) inventor Anthony Wood that was a pioneer in helping consumers cut the cord from traditional cable.

Roku made one of the first devices to offer streaming Internet content such as Netflix over TVs, but the market has since become more competitive, with Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Inc and others offering their own devices.

Los Gatos, California-based Roku, which had prepared a confidential filing in 2014, is drafting a new registration document to account for the shift in its business model toward higher-margin advertising and licensing revenue, one of the sources said.

It has also hired a new adviser, Morgan Stanley, to lead the IPO, along with Citigroup Inc, the sources said, asking not to be named because the process is confidential.

Morgan Stanley, Roku and Citi declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Roku had hired underwriters on Thursday.

The company said in February that it generated $400 million in revenue last year, with $100 million in its media and licensing segment.

Roku’s platform has been open to carrying more TV apps than its peers, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Google Play. Apple TV only recently announced plans to support Amazon Prime Video.

The company has been fighting a legal ban in the Mexico, where cable operators are trying to stop the import and distribution of Roku devices on the grounds that they are sometimes hacked in order to watch pirated channels.

Roku has been offering paid advertising options for its partners and gets a cut of advertising revenue from media companies with apps on its platform.

It also licenses its software to companies like Sharp and Hitachi, allowing them to make televisions with built-in Roku streaming.

Roku has 15 million monthly active accounts as of June 30, 2017 that streamed in the last 30 days. It accounted for nearly half of all over-the-top streaming devices in the United States last year, according to market research firm comScore.

Roku has accumulated a number of big-media investors over the years including Viacom Inc, 21st Century Fox Inc, Hearst and Dish Network Corp.

Reporting by Lauren Hirsch and Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli