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CLEAR files S-1 for IPO as post-pandemic travel rises


Clear principals Ken Cornick and Caryn Seidman-Becker.


CLEAR, the company best known for helping travelers zip through airport security lines, filed its IPO prospectus on Monday, and indicated that business is picking up as vaccinations increase.

Revenue at the New York-based company rose 20% last year to $230.8 million. Net loss narrowed to $9.3 million from $54.2 million. The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol “YOU.”

Launched in 2010, CLEAR’s biometric security service is popular among frequent fliers, who purchase subscriptions for $179 a year. Along with gaining the ability to speed through airport lines, subscribers can also use the service at sports stadiums and entertainment venues.

In the first quarter of 2021, revenue dropped 17% from the same period a year earlier, which included two months of normal business before the pandemic. Volumes among U.S. domestic airline passengers plunged 60% in 2020 and total bookings dropped 11%, the company said.

“We expect that Covid-19 will continue to adversely impact our airport enrollments and business in 2021 and possibly beyond,” CLEAR said in its prospectus.

Still, as more people get vaccinated and concerts, sporting events, and conferences return, CLEAR’s business is poised to rebound. And for some activities, patrons will have to digitally convey their Covid vaccination or testing status to get admitted.

In May, after airport travel plummeted, CLEAR launched Health Pass, a major new feature in the company’s iOS and Android app that securely stores Covid information, such as test results or vaccination records. Verifying that all attendees have tested negative should reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Since Health Pass launched, it’s gained traction in stadiums for sporting events that need to check the status of many people quickly. In February, 100 vaccinated health-care workers were able to attend the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, by verifying their status through Health Pass. One-third of NBA teams are using the app to enforce their Covid protocols for fans, and people attending National Hockey League games in Arizona also use Health Pass.

CLEAR is poised to be the latest New York company to hit the public markets, joining a growing roster that includes names like Etsy, MongoDB and Peloton. While the biggest offerings have typically come from Silicon Valley and San Francisco, 2021 is turning out to be a blockbuster year for New York, with DigitalOcean, UiPath and Compass all having gone public already.

In February, CLEAR announced a $100 million funding round, with backers including investment firms connected to Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, the NFL and the Partnership Fund for New York City.

CLEAR ranked No. 19 on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list. The company hired Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo to lead the offering.

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WATCH: Clear CEO on the push to verify Covid records

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