By Tova Cohen
Nov 6 (Reuters) - Israel-based Wix.com, which helps companies build and operate websites, raised over $122 million in an initial public offering on Nasdaq on Wednesday.
The 7.7 million shares sold were priced at $16.50 each - the top end of the range it provided before the IPO. The shares were up 3.6 percent to $17.10 in morning Nasdaq trade.
Wix, which sells its cloud-based templates to design websites to small business owners, said revenue grew to $43.7 million in 2012 from $24.6 million in 2011. It had a net loss of $17.8 million in the first nine months of 2013, compared with a loss of $11.5 million in 2012 as marketing expenses jumped.
In the first nine months of 2013 revenue rose to $55.5 million.
"We are growing more than 80 percent year over year," Chief Financial Officer Lior Shemesh told Reuters. He declined to give a forecast but said Wix will maintain a high growth rate.
The company, whose App Market allows companies to install more than 140 different apps on their websites, said over 40 million businesses, organisations, professionals and individuals used its platform. The company is adding about 1 million users per month, Shemesh said.
Some of the proceeds from the IPO will go to selling shareholders but Wix expects over $100 million to go to the company, including the greenshoe.
"We are going to spend much of the money to make sure the company will continue growing, first on research and development expenses and we will recruit more talented people," Shemesh said. "We will also spend on marketing to make sure we can increase our market share."
Wix plans to increase its share in North America, which accounts for 55 percent of the company's revenue, as well as expand in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe.
Shemesh said the company also has a strong presence in Brazil and western Europe. Wix has 450 workers, mostly in Israel and North America, and has set up subsidiaries in Ukraine and Lithuania.
While Wix has been approached by a number of companies in the last few years about a buyout, unlike many other Israeli high-tech firms, it decided not to sell the company.
"Our vision is to be the biggest Internet company that can allow users to bring their businesses online. The opportunity is huge," Shemesh said. "Making sure the company will continue to grow is better value than selling the company."