In terms of fundraising, SmileDirectClub has followed a different path than many of the other high-growth tech startups that have conducted major public offerings in 2019. In terms of the massive pile of cash the company hopes to raise, it fits right in.

The Nashville-based business started off September by setting an initial price range for its upcoming IPO, with plans to sell about 58.5 million shares for $19 to $22 apiece, per an SEC filing. A midpoint pricing would raise about $1.2 billion, a figure that could tick up to nearly $1.4 billion if the listing's underwriters exercise their full option to buy more shares. SmileDirectClub's planned dual-class stock structure makes things a bit complicated, but it appears a midpoint pricing would result in a post-IPO valuation of about $7.9 billion. A pricing of $22 per share, meanwhile, would lead to an $8.5 billion valuation.

That would represent an impressive leap from the $3.2 billion valuation SmileDirectClub achieved last October with its latest round of funding, a $380 million private placement led by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. A vehicle affiliated with CD&R currently owns 70.9% of the company's Class A shares, with that number set to drop to 25.9% upon the completion of the IPO. Venture investors Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital also took part in last year's funding.

Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub operates a telehealth platform that diagnoses orthodontic issues and sells clear aligners that are custom designed to give its clients straighter teeth. The company's services are said to be less than half the price of traditional orthodontic services, although some dental professionals have questioned just how safe and effective its products really are. The company is led by CEO and chairman David Katzman, who is also the founder of Camelot Venture Group, a private investor that made its name backing direct-to-consumer businesses like Quicken Loans and 1-800 Contacts. SmileDirectClub was initially an ecommerce operation, but it's since opened more than 300 physical "SmileShops."

Uber, Beyond Meat, CrowdStrike, Slack and the rest of the tech companies that have gone public in 2019 had all fueled their prior growth with boatloads of venture funding. Prior to last year's private placement, SmileDirectClub had largely eschewed the traditional VC and PE ecosystems. In 2016, it sold a 17% stake to Align Technology, the company behind the Invisalign brand of clear orthodontic aligners. The move also included an agreement for Align to manufacture aligners for SmileDirectClub. Then, in 2017, Align upped its holding to 19% in a move that valued SmileDirectClub at a reported $640 million.

The relationship with Align, though, quickly went south. In 2018, SmileDirectClub accused Align of violating a non-compete agreement by launching a pilot program of physical stores; earlier this year, an arbitrator ruled in SmileDirectClub's favor, ordering Align to sell back its 19% stake in SmileDirectClub and close the 12 stores it has since launched.

For the first six months of 2019, SmileDirectClub reported a $68.2 million net loss on $373.5 million in revenue, with those figures on pace to easily exceed a net loss of $74.8 million on $423.2 million in revenue for the whole of 2018. To generate that revenue growth, though, the business is burning through a whole lot of money: Its cash on hand decreased from $313.9 million at the end of 2018 to $149.1 million at the end of 1H 2019.

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