Loudcloud IPO goes for bargain rate

Shares of multimedia IPO Loudcloud, the multimedia branchild of Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen, were priced at $6 late Thursday - about half their original projected debut value, according to press reports.

A total of 25 million shares in the fledgling firm were offered to public market investors for only $6, down from original terms of as much as $12 a share late last year. The initial public offering of stock is expected to start trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol LDCL.

Thursday night's pricing puts the company's value at $439.9 million, down from the $1.15 billion valuation originally predicted by underwriters Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. this past fall, and below the $727.7 million valuation placed on the company in a private financing last summer.

The offering is widely seen as a kind of weather vane for the current IPO market: as a highly regarded prospect when original presented, response to Loudcloud may determine the fate of innumerable IPOs.