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Originally published Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Intelius files $144M IPO

Intelius, which provides online background checks and sells cellphone directory information to consumers, filed papers on Thursday to go...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Intelius, which provides online background checks and sells cellphone directory information to consumers, filed papers on Thursday to go public.

The Bellevue company said it hopes to raise up to $143.8 million, and would trade under the symbol "INTL" on the Nasdaq, according to documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Intelius was cofounded by President and Chief Executive Naveen Jain, best known for previously starting InfoSpace, a high-profile Internet company that at its height was worth more than Boeing.

But the company unraveled, and Jain was fired from InfoSpace and named as an defendant in several lawsuits. Ultimately, he paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to the company amid allegations of insider trading. In its filing, Intelius said one lawsuit related to his activities as a former officer and director of InfoSpace is continuing.

A Seattle Times investigation published in 2005 found that Jain, 48, and other InfoSpace executives appeared to have boosted the company's stock with accounting tricks and dubious deals in 2000. The investigation found they concealed revenue shortfalls and made "Lazy Susan" deals in which company officials invested in other firms that, in turn, came back to InfoSpace as revenue.

InfoSpace continues as a publicly traded company today, under the direction of new management.

Jain's new company, in which he owns 15.5 percent, has also run into criticism.

It sells what some people consider private information, but Intelius maintains it combs the information from public documents.

Underwriters of Intelius' initial public offering include Deutsche Bank Securities and Bear, Stearns & Co.

In the filing, it said its business includes selling information, including phone numbers, addresses, and background checks, and also makes money from online advertising.

For November, it said its sites, including www.intelius.com, were collectively among the most-visited Web properties in the U.S., drawing 10.2 million unique visitors, according to comScore.

In the filing, Intelius said it recorded a profit of $6.1 million on revenue of $60.2 million for the nine months ended Sept. 2007. In the same period a year earlier, it earned $4.4 million on revenue of about $40 million.

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The company said the initial public offering's proceeds will go toward investing in new opportunities, such as expanding its customer base, adding to its portfolio of offerings; increasing online advertising, increasing repeat customers, building a brand and possibly making acquisitions.

But much of the company's business is affected by state and federal laws. "We are subject to government regulation and vulnerable to adverse publicity," the company said in its filing.

Washington state Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup, is proposing to update a bill she initiated a few years ago that made it illegal for cellphone companies to create a wireless phone directory without permission from individuals. In new language she is now proposing, it would preclude any company — not just cellular operators — from creating a directory without permission. The bill's first hearing is Wednesday.

"I'm going to push hard," said Morrell. "If we let another year go by, they'll be more people lining up and saying they want to do this [make a directory]."

She added: "The cellphone is so different than a home phone. When they call your cellphone, you get charged."

On the federal level, three U.S. senators have also introduced the Wireless 411 Privacy Act, which would ban cellphone numbers from being listed in a national directory without consumers' consent.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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