Blinkx to IPO for $150-500M

blinkx looks to be the first of this crop of online video startups to go public, albeit in strange fashion. The video search company, which as we have written had an unclear relationship with Autonomy, the publicly held British provider of some of its search tools, will be combined with Autonomy’s consumer technology to float on the AIM in May.

Here’s the clearest explanation of the arrangement I’ve seem, from the Times:

Autonomy will exercise an option over Blinkx, the video search group and its leading consumer customer, that will initially leave it with a 90 per cent stake. The search group currently holds no stake in Blinkx but was granted an option as part of a licence agreement, under which Blinkx uses Autonomy software to search video content for users…Autonomy’s share in Blinkx will reduce to 10 per cent as the company pays shareholders a tax-efficient dividend in the form of Blinkx shares.

According to the Times, the new company is expected to be valued between $150 million and $500 million. Wow! As Rafat at paidContent writes, “Will be interesting to watch out for Blinkx’s IPO filings as that will give an idea on the kind of revenues the much-hyped-yet-poorly-perceived company has been making.”

In December, we asked comScore for a blinkx unique visitor estimate and they replied that traffic to the site wasn’t sufficient for them to report it. To be fair, blinkx does power other sites, but it is also a consumer destination complete with its own billboard on Highway 101 near San Francisco.

It’s unclear what portion of that valuation comes from the Autonomy consumer technology spinoff, but Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land is perplexed, commenting “Autonomy doesn’t have any consumer-facing products, as best I can tell.”

Public relations representatives for blinkx, who are normally quite communicative, said Wednesday that they were forbidden to talk to U.S. news outlets due to SEC regulations. London-based Reuters, on the other hand, has an interview with Autonomy’s CEO.