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RightNow says time is right for an IPO

The hosted contact center vendor announced plans today to take the company public.

RightNow Technologies Inc. is the latest high-tech company aiming to join the public ranks.

The Bozeman, Mont.-based provider of hosted customer service software joined other high profile companies like Google and Salesforce.com when it announced today that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. It hopes to raise $60 million and plans to be traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "RNOW."

The number of shares and the price range for the offering have not been determined.

Morgan Stanley & Co. will act as sole book runner for the offering.

For more information

Read a recent interview with RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte.

Learn more about RightNow's latest product offerings.

Representatives from RightNow couldn't comment on the move, citing SEC regulations. In an interview last month, however, RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte said Salesforce.com's public offering meant good news for RightNow and the hosted CRM market as a whole.

"We're rooting for Salesforce.com," Gianforte told SearchCRM.com. "Salesforce is the largest on-demand CRM company in the world. We are the second largest in terms of revenue. We feel their IPO is going to create a lot more visibility on this emerging space."

The offering comes after some strong financial performances by the company. The fourth quarter of 2003 was the 25th consecutive quarter of revenue growth and seventh consecutive quarter of cash flow positive business, RightNow said. The company has recently doubled its engineering staff and is in the midst of doubling the field organization, Gianforte said last month.

RightNow focuses on the customer service side of CRM, supporting multiple communication channels, including Web, interactive voice, e-mail and telephone. It currently has more than 1,000 active clients.

As a private company, RightNow has been relatively quiet about its fiscal success, and the IPO should certainly bring some more visibility to its larger deals, said John Ragsdale, principal analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. Don't expect RightNow to use all its new capital on marketing and advertising, though.

"They've always put a huge amount of their dollars back into development, and I don't think that's going to change," Ragsdale said. "I don't see them becoming a full CRM vendor, though. I do see them expanding their offerings."

With today's announcement, RightNow becomes the second hosted CRM provider in recent months to plan a public stock offering. In December, Salesforce.com said it would go public. The San Francisco-based company's stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "CRM."

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