Is The Tech IPO Window Opening Up?

from the quietly... dept

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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Comments on “Is The Tech IPO Window Opening Up?”

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Danno says:

I don’t see a bubble happening. I mean, I know everyone wants to get rich, but I think most of these guys at least realize that they have to have at least some hope of becoming profitable before they try and sell something to an Internet Bubble aware economy.

At the very least, these guys have products that A) exist and are B) useful to a lot of people, so that puts them ahead of a lot of the bursters.

Revenue model, revenue model, revenue model! Money can be exchanged for goods and services!

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Re:

We do a lot of work for VCs (and their portfolio companies) as well as for large tech firms. The first poster was right, there is a lot of cash floating around. NEA just raised their biggest fund ever at $2.5 billion and they have to invest 1/2 of that in the next 5 years.

If you look at the amount of money that is typically put into tech startups (somewhere from $5 – $10 million on average), that’s a lot of money to give out to a lot of people….

I don’t know where you are, but there is very much the making of a bubble here in Silicon Valley. Not that it’s bad, but you do have to be aware that it will burst at some point. Pretty much everyone in the business knows it but no one wants to miss out on another Google or Skype.


Jo Mamma says:

10-year cycle

From a stock market perspective, the last 5-years of any given decade have typically been the strongest, historically speaking.

If you look at the interest rate cycle we are in now, that certainly looks like a possibility… as long as oil stays under control.

Since the days of the 17th century Dutch tulip and bulb craze (interesting story of the first bubble, look it up), to the South Sea bubble to, people are never smart enough to avoid bubbles.

If you throw all of these factors in a blender, add a ton of hype, money, greed (none of which are in short supply), and a dash of talent and profits… I can see it happening again.

Think people are smart enough to avoid it again?
Google’s IPO price $85 (08/04)
less than 2 years later it was at $432.

Does Google make money? Sure it does… should it more than QUADRUPLE in less than two years and be about 4x more expensive (in terms of P/E) than the average stock?

If you know the answer to that (I don’t) you know whether or not there will be another bubble.

J.B. says:

Where there's utility ...

… there’s funding. A strange combination could be this one. With Google Earth users fanatically spotting stuff, U.S. intelligence agencies could get their money’s worth by setting up joint ventures with such groups of “spotters”. Take for example the recent discovery of that odd military site in China which has been found in Google Earth:

That’s the place in the middle of the desert where the Chinese Army has constructed a scale-model replica of the entire region of Aksai Chin (occupied by China since the 1962 war with India). At 1:500, it’s still 700 by 900 meters big ( = several football fields). Next to it is a base with dozens of troop transporters seen coming and going. The duplicate shows everything: rivers, lakes, roads and snow-capped mountains. It’s basically a landscape within a landscape.

The problem is that nobody has been able to figure out the function of this thing. The world’s biggest miniature golf course, perhaps? China’s own Area 51? That’s why it’s the subject of so much discussion in the blogosphere. The discoverer even had to set up his own blog:

Any ideas?

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