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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

OfferUp may be Puget Sound region’s only tech legend

By Rachel Lerman Seattle Times

OfferUp may soon become the Puget Sound region’s only tech unicorn, throwing Bellevue into the mix of places to look for the controversial and endangered species.

The Bellevue buy-sell startup, which rivals longtime leader Craigslist, may be raising a $120 million funding round, sources told the Wall Street Journal. Word is that the round values the company at $1.2 billion.

That would throw OfferUp into the ranks of modern tech legends such as Uber, Snapchat and AirBnb. And all that apparently before the young company starts to make money.

The interested investor is reportedly private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which also invested $100 million each in local tech companies Payscale and Avalara, both in 2014. The New York-based firm has had a longtime presence in the region; it also invested in The Colbalt Group in 2000.

OfferUp runs a mobile site where people can quickly list items for sale and easily interact with potential sellers. The five-year-old startup raised $73 million last year in a round led by T. Rowe Price Associates.

That investment brought the total the company raised to $90 million, and valued OfferUp at $800 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If the rumored Warburg Pincus-led deal comes through, and Journal sources say it is still up in the air, OfferUp would become the first local company to be labeled a tech “unicorn” — or a private company worth more than $1 billion.

But unicorns have been getting a bad rap rap lately as some investors and reports have suggested that the tech companies are overvalued. That caused a bit of a retreat by non-traditional investors from technology lately as the community waits to see how new tech stocks will perform in the public markets.

OfferUp declined to comment on the funding report.

The startup faces steep competition from the familiar Craigslist brand, including from newcomers much like itself, such as New York-based Letgo.

But OfferUp is growing like a weed. The company said earlier this year that it is on track to process more than $14 billion in transactions throughout 2016. The company has yet to bring in revenue from its service, and in an interview last November declined to discuss plans to generate revenue.

OfferUp said in June that it had 90 employees, up from 30 last summer.