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OCBJ INSIDER

IPO prospectuses can be dry affairs, 200+ pages of legal disclaimers, corporate buzzwords and often undecipherable financials, with the occasional item of note sprinkled in.

Leave it to William Wang, whose Vizio has grown from low-cost TV maker to an emerging entertainment powerhouse, to add some real-life drama to the proceedings.

“Twenty years ago, I boarded a plane in Taiwan, heading back home to Los Angeles,” Wang wrote in an introductory letter for his company’s IPO filing last week, which recounts the formation of his Irvine-based company.

“I had been working on a computer monitor company at the time, and had a series of long, exhausting meetings with many business partners. All I could think about was how much I wanted to go home and be with the people I love.

“A little after takeoff, the plane crashed into a construction site,” he said. Of the 179 passengers and crew on the Singapore Airlines flight, 83 died, including execs at Buena Park bottling firm Ameripec.

“The entire time, all I could think about was how I had to survive. How I would do anything to get home. I ran to the front of the plane, forced open the emergency door and jumped out,” Wang wrote.

“Finally getting home after the accident was one of the best moments of my life. I remember thinking how much I loved being home, and from this thought, Vizio was born.”

The addition of the intro letter is one difference between Vizio’s latest IPO attempt and a prior effort in 2015.

The first attempt at going public occurred when Vizio had higher sales—$3.1B in 2014, versus $2B in 2020—but was less profitable. Net income was $102M last year, versus $45M in 2014. And the company now has an ad-driven business that promises much more growth going forward; see Kari Hamanaka’s front-page story for more.

Vizio’s IPO route mirrors that of Anthony Hsieh—like Wang, born in Taiwan, now living in Newport Beach—and his Foothill Ranch loanDepot, which went public last month.

As was the case with Vizio, loanDepot first made plans for an IPO in 2015, but didn’t pull the trigger at the time.

Forming the mortgage lender in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession “took more than wisdom and tenacity, it took courage,” Hsieh wrote in his mortgage company’s IPO paperwork. “We chose to enter the market at a time when few were willing to take the chance, and even fewer were succeeding.”

For more on Hsieh, see our listing of OC’s Top Home Sales of 2020, which begins on page 30.

The seed for Alignment Healthcare’s mission was when John Kao’s mother had a heart attack.

“I experienced firsthand how fragmented and disconnected our healthcare system can be for those who need it most,” said Kao, CEO of Orange-based Alignment, in a letter that’s part of his firm’s IPO prospectus, filed last week.

Formed in 2013, Alignment—a provider of Medicare Advantage plans to seniors—is among OC’s fastest-growing large companies, generating $959M in revenue last year, up 27% year-over-year.

For more on Alignment’s rapid growth and plans as a public company, see next week’s print edition.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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