Now 34M Users Strong, DIY Web Publishing Platform Wix Takes First Step Toward IPO

Back before Tumblr and its billion-dollar exit were even a twinkle in David Karp’s eye, there were few places for non-techies to go to create professional-looking websites. While Tumblr, WordPress and others would soon make it easy for anyone and their mother to start their own blogs, launched in 2006 to do the same for websites — to allow anyone to build their own Flash-enabled homepage or widget overnight.

Riding the growing demand for DIY website tools, Wix has grown into a sizable company and now employs nearly 400 people in its offices in Tel Aviv, New York and San Francisco. The Israeli-American startup is backed by just under $60 million from investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, Mangrove, Benchmark, DAG and Insight Venture Partners and has a user base of more than 34 million who have created over 23 million websites (as of December). Behind its continuing growth, it appears the company is ready to take the next step in its development, as it today submitted a “draft registration statement” to the SEC, which officially puts it on a collision course with the public markets.

In a statement today, the company said that this proposed offering is “expected to commence after” the SEC “completes its review process.” Naturally, this announcement from Wix does not in and of itself constitute a definitive declaration that it will go public, or even set a date to do so, nor does it act as an offer to sell or solicit securities. But it is very definitely the first step in the process of pursuing an IPO.

The announcement today follows several months of relative quiet for Wix, after the company made one of its biggest product announcements in the last 12 months, when it launched a new app market and SDK in October, enabling third-party developers to integrate their apps into its platform. The company had been steadily chugging along, adding functionality piece-by-piece until it launched its HTML5 builder in March of 2012, which allowed users to build sites that would “display across both PC and mobile browsers in a drag and drop format that co-founder Avishai Abrahami compared to ‘HTML5 for Dummies.'”

The push has been part of Wix’s efforts to stay with the increasingly mobile times, which seems to have been working, as Abrahami claimed in December that its new mobile functionality made it the “largest mobile site builder in existence,” with users now creating mobile sites at a rate of 50K sites/month.

While the 34 million-user milestone makes it clear that Wix has found steady adoption, Abrahami also said in December that the company has seen corresponding growth in revenue, “doubling or more” every year. It’s also good to see that there’s been increasing competition in the DIY website-building space of late, as Y Combinator grad, Weebly, which launched in 2007, has begun to nip at Wix’s heels. In May, Weebly launched a complete overhaul of its existing product, including a new planner, mobile editor and Android app, along with sharing the news that it has now seen over 15 million websites built using its products.

For Wix, it is not yet clear how the roadmap will unfold from here, or exactly how much the company plans to raise ahead of its IPO — or when it intends to go public for that matter — though Globes is reporting that it plans to raise $75 million at a $400 million valuation. Wix did not disclose any financial information and would not confirm these reports, because the filing was confidential.

However, both Wix’s announcement today and Weebly’s announcement last month are clear indicators that this space is maturing fast and has already minted a few sizable players.

Wix’s announcement is copied below:

Wixpress, Ltd., a leading web development and design platform, commercially known as, announced today that it has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a possible initial public offering of its ordinary shares. The proposed offering is expected to commence after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission completes its review process, subject to market conditions and other conditions.

This announcement is being made pursuant to and in accordance with Rule 135 under the Securities Act of 1933. As required by Rule 135, this press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities, and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of that jurisdiction.