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Vienna-based Eloqua raises $92M in IPO

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Vienna-based Eloqua made its debut on the stock market last week with an initial public offering that raised $92 million.

The company provides software that helps businesses determine which visitors to their Web site are most likely to buy products or services. Locally, its customers range from Blackboard and Cvent to the American Bankers Association and Washington Capitals.

“The Internet has fundamentally changed how people buy things today. All of us go online and do our research online,” chief executive Joe Payne said. “Eloqua tracks all of that research that happens online, and we help score people so the sales force knows who they should sell to.”

The company appeared on the Nasdaq Thursday morning under the ticker symbol ELOQ. Eloqua and its existing stockholders made a total of 8 million shares available at an asking price of $11.50 a share, the top end of its projected range.

The stock price opened at $12 on its first day of trading and closed 7.42 percent higher at $12.89.

“We’re really building a business for the long term, so what [the stock] does today or tomorrow or the next day is really not important in the grand scheme of things,” Payne said on Thursday afternoon.

The company said early last year it expected a public offering sometime in 2013, but executives moved up the decision because the firm has been gaining traction in new sectors, such as financial services and nonprofits, Payne said.

“With that change and with that market evolution, we felt now was a good time to strengthen our balance sheet and give ourselves more capital to grow the business,” Payne said.

The IPO is not an exit for the firm’s investors, he said. Instead, the money will be used to reach additional customers and acquire businesses that sell complementary technologies.

Some have criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission’s compliance rules as expensive and arduous for smaller firms, forcing them to forgo the public markets for other fundraising outlets, such as venture capital.

But Payne said that wasn’t a deterrent for Eloqua.

“We have a senior team, so we’ve actually been running the company very metric-oriented,” he said. “We put a lot of systems and processes in place ... so it wasn’t as big of a challenge for us to get regulatory compliance as it might have been.”

The firm plans to add additional staff to monitor its compliance, but “that’s a fair trade to the investors. Investors want to make sure they’re investing in companies that do things the right way,” he said.

Founded in Toronto in 1999, Eloqua has 400 employees worldwide, including about 80 in its Northern Virginia headquarters.

$11.50 Asking price per share for Thursday morning’s IPO.

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