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ACV raises $414M as it goes public for growth

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ACV’s Virtual Lift scans the undercarriage of a vehicle without having to put it on a lift.

ACV Auctions has grown rapidly the past six years. Becoming a public company will now take the digital vehicle-wholesaling company to the next level, CEO George Chamoun said last week as ACV raised $414 million in an initial public offering.

Chamoun’s vision is to take ACV far beyond just selling wholesale vehicles online. He’s already taken steps in that direction as ACV has branched out to offer ancillary products.

“It’s about the long view,” Chamoun told Automotive News on Wednesday, March 24, as the company neared the end of its first day of trading. ACV shares were offered at $25, up from target prices of $18 to $22. They closed that first day on the Nasdaq exchange up 25 percent at $31.25 and ended the week at $30.27.

The money raised by going public will be directed into growing in three ways, Chamoun said.

One is geographic expansion.

ACV finished 2020 operating in 125 U.S. markets. It has identified 160 markets total for the country and aims to expand into some of the untapped areas this year. The company plans to hire this year a U.S. manager who will be tasked with hiring more vehicle inspectors in various locales.

Already ACV is continuing to add inspectors throughout the country.

“We’re literally hiring and training as fast as we can to get coverage to get into more and more dealerships,” Chamoun said, adding that inspectors will also go to consumers’ driveways on behalf of dealers or commercial clients.

ACV also intends to expand its product range.

In the last several years, ACV has launched such new products as Virtual Lift, which scans the undercarriage of a vehicle without having to put it on a lift, and Audio Motor Profile, which listens to and gathers data on vehicle engines while using machine learning to gauge potential mechanical problems.

“There’ll be more,” Chamoun said. “We’ve got significant more spend in our product engineering.”

The company also will hunt for acquisitions.

ACV has acquired TrueFrame, the source of its True360-brand condition reports, and ASI, an off-lease inspection company.

“If we found our third acquisition opportunity this year or next year, we’re ready,” Chamoun said.

ACV’s public offering comes after six years of swift growth for the company. In 2015, the online auction platform sold about 1,000 vehicles. Last year, it sold more than 391,000 vehicles. Company revenue nearly doubled last year from 2019 to $208.4 million.

But ACV has not yet been profitable. It recorded a net loss of $41 million in 2020 and a loss of $77.2 million the year before.

Chamoun said the company, however, is showing profits in some of the markets in which it has operated the longest. He pointed out that ACV in last year’s third quarter had profits before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization but that the company’s immediate goal was to use cash to grow.

“Great investors aren’t looking for you to be profitable today,” Chamoun said. “Great investors want to know that you have proof points in your business model.”

And ACV is proving its business model works, he said.

“It works for dealers. It works for ACV. It works for our investors,” Chamoun said. “And it’s about scaling that and doing it more and more and more.”

Read More: Auto News

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