10 Biggest IPO Flops in History


Wired Ventures

The original new media company, Wired Ventures began with a mission to chronicle the emerging information economy from its insider's perch in San Francisco, beating the brick-and-mortar media establishment to the important, underground stories.

Built around the award-winning reporting and design of its print magazine Wired, the company grew to include HotWired and Wired News, which became the online arms of the magazine, book publishing company HardWired and an MSNBC show called Netizen.

Although the original 1993 business plan projected a lean staff of 22, Wired Ventures bulged to 338 employees by 1996 and was losing nearly $8 million a year [source: Useem]. Even though it was hemorrhaging money from each of its ventures, Wired believed it was riding the same unstoppable wave as the rest of the high-tech industry.

And so did the banks. When Wired Ventures hired underwriters to assess its value for a planned IPO in 1996, they came up with the ridiculously high figure of $447 million [source: Useem].

Company execs came to their senses and called off the IPO when Internet stocks took a sudden, although temporary dip. The founders would try and fail with another IPO in 1998 before the company was wrested from them in a hostile takeover and sold to Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc., parent company of Condé Nast, in 1998 [source: PR Newswire].