Ashley Madison Adultery Website Going Public
Four years ago, the Canadian business attempted to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange but could not raise sufficient capital or interest. Now they're at it again, this time planning an IPO for London, England sometime later this year.
The risque dating website claims over 35-million members and posted revenues of $115 million last year. They hope to raise $200 million in their IPO.
Perhaps the British and European dating markets are more sophisticated, but we here at the Law Blogger have to wonder about the public value of a company with Ashley Madison's business model. Company executives have long-admitted they sell the "darker side of dating."
Classically understated; folks get killed out that way. Also, they are selling a product that arguably encourages the erosion of the institution of marriage and that is illegal in many jurisdictions, including here in Michigan.
The company does have its marketing analytics down to a fine yet devious art form. If a person gets married in the United States and files their marriage license with the county, as required in most states, AM obtains that now-public information and begins sending advertisements and other electronic communication to individuals with a certain type of profile.
The illegality of adultery does not bother company execs who point to the case of South Korea. When AM began its operations in South Korea, where adultery was recently illegal, government censors blocked the web site. But then the Supreme Court in South Korea changed the 63-year old law, and AM has been allowed to operate with impunity.
In going public in London, the company will be directly competing with the French web site, Gleeden. One thing is for sure; across the globe, Ashley Madison has become synonymous with marital infidelity; apparently, that's a billion dollar a year industry.
For our part, we here at the Law Blogger have handled more than a few cases where one spouse alleges the other has created a profile on the Ashley Madison website. Therefore, despite the need to diversify the nationality of our investment portfolios, we will not be among the investors should this company go public.