For all the talk of the new bubble with sky-high valuations and VCs dumping money into web startups with no business models, there is some real concern among many that, without an open IPO market, there are going to be some big problems very soon. VCs can only serve on so many boards at one time, and without exits or failures, things get tricky. Many VCs are still sitting on a lot of money they want (or need) to invest, but they don't have the bandwidth to take on additional investments. Nothing is doing so poorly to be shut down, a few things are getting acquired, but very few are rushing to go public. While a few high-profile tech companies have pulled their IPOs at the last minute (GoDaddy, ClearWire) or failed miserably (Vonage), it appears that a decent number of companies are making it out. Of course, there are different ways to look at this. While IPOs may be nice "exits" for VCs (and, often enough, founders), the problem in the last bubble was that many of the companies going public weren't at all ready for it (and, in some cases, weren't even real businesses). Instead, it was just shifting all of the risk from the private markets to the public markets. More or less your garden-variety fleecing of less sophisticated investors. So fewer IPOs isn't a problem if the companies going out have reasonable fundamentals. However, one interesting thing is that the companies going out these days seem a lot lower profile. The article mentions that DivX went public last week, and Shutterfly went public today. Beyond the "oh, they're still around?" thought, the idea that Shutterfly (which came into being in the last bubble, and was started by SGI and Netscape's Jim Clark -- who, for a while was thought to be the King Midas of the tech industry), going public with barely a peep in the tech press is quite surprising. I guess it just doesn't compare to how many billions Facebook/YouTube/digg is going to be worth tomorrow. Of course, it's also worth pointing out that Shutterfly's stock rose in its debut, even after it priced at the top of its range. Perhaps investors like the lack of hype -- and the more solid fundamentals, like, you know, being profitable for a few years running.
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