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TiVo plans IPO to support TV recording device

The company will try to raise $80 million in an initial public offering of stock so it can promote a service that digitally records TV shows.

    TiVo, which bills itself as a provider of "personalized TV service," will try to raise $80 million in an initial public offering of stock so it can promote a service that digitally records TV shows.

    In addition to raising cash from a stock offering, TiVo today said that it has received additional equity investments from media companies such as CBS, The Walt Disney Company, and cable operators Comcast and Cox Communications.

    TiVo disclosed the plan in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Instead of a traditional video cassette, TiVo's TV set-top recording device uses a large hard disk drive like the one found in a desktop computer. Coupled with an easy-to-use electronic programming guide and pared-down online service, these devices can be easily programmed to record shows in advance. In addition, these devices can pause and resume shows on the fly--and allow users to skip over ads.

    "It's not just a digitalized VCR. What TiVo delivers is likely to seriously change the way people watch television," Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research, told Bloomberg News. "You're selecting programs by name, not by time and channel, so it's a lot easier to find what you're looking for, and you don't have to worry about tapes."

    Bernoff said networks want to be involved with the promotion of the device, because it enables viewers to skip through ads more easily than on a standard VCR, which they perceive as a threat to their advertising livelihood.

    Philips is manufacturing and selling TiVo's set top--which is currently priced starting at $499 when purchased directly from TiVo--and plans a "retail launch" in the second half of 1999, according to registration documents.

    According to the filing, TiVo has incurred an accumulated deficit of $21.9 million. As of June 30, it had sold $895,000 worth of recorders and $8,000 in subscriptions since it first started offering service earlier this year.

    The investors announced today join a growing list of high-profile backers including Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, NBC, and Philips Electronics.

    Credit Suisse First Boston is the lead underwriter for the IPO. TiVo plans to have the shares listed for trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol TIVO, its filing said.

    Bloomberg contributed to this report.