Encyclopaedia Britannica plans IPO at $1Bn valuation: Report

Encyclopaedia Britannica, an over 250 years old heritage that would bring back memories for those who lived and breathed in the physical encyclopaedic age, is on the verge of a new chapter. The Chicago-based publisher, which reinvented itself in the internet age as a education technology company, and also owns the esteemed Merriam-Webster dictionary, is setting its sights on a potential $1 billion valuation in its initial public offering (IPO) targeted for as early as June 2024.

According to a Bloomberg report, this high-profile debut on the stock exchanges could happen sometime as early as June 2024. The company’s decision to go public follows its earlier announcement of filing a confidential registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The planned IPO of the Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica also positions it alongside other major companies seeking to make their public debuts this year. Social media giant Reddit is gearing up for an IPO with a valuation exceeding $6.5 billion, while retail behemoth Shein, valued at a staggering $60 billion in 2023, is also preparing its public offering. A successful IPO would provide it with the necessary capital to fuel its growth trajectory, and the influx of fresh funds could be channeled towards further development of its digital platforms, expansion of its educational content library, and potential acquisitions in the edtech space.

As of now, Encyclopaedia Britannica is working with advertisers. The details of the high-profile listing – including revealing how many shares will be sold and what their price range will be – is yet to be determined. The development itself has been in the works for quite a while – Encyclopaedia Britannica was looking to list on the stock exchange and exploring an IPO two years ago (it was even considering private fundraising as a potential precursor to the listing).

Encyclopaedia Britannica was once a household name – founded in 1768, it holds the distinction of being the oldest English-language general encyclopedia. For generations, the volumes served as a source of information in countless households and academic institutions, and today, it boasts a range of educational products including Britannica Education, a comprehensive learning platform, and Melingo, an AI-powered language processing software. This shift has ensured Britannica’s continued relevance in the digital age – today, its portfolio extends beyond its flagship encyclopedia, encompassing a diverse range of educational resources and platforms.

Later, in 1964, Encyclopaedia Britannica acquired Merriam-Webster, which has carved its niche as a leading provider of dictionaries and language resources since its establishment in 1831. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary to Britannica Education and Melingo AI, the company currently caters to the diverse needs of learners worldwide. Encyclopædia Britannica also has over 7 billion page views annually and a user base of more than 150 million students across 150 countries, and its revenue approached the $100 million mark in 2022.

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