2017 tech IPOs are on a tear compared to last year



By this time last year, one tech company had gone public. Already this year, nine tech companies have gone public on U.S. exchanges. Needless to say, public exits are looking up.

That comparison becomes starker when you compare SecureWorks, 2016’s first IPO, to Snap, which went public in 2017. SecureWorks priced under range, and it has since fallen nearly 38 percent from its IPO price. Snap, in contrast, priced above range and then saw its share price quickly ascend.

It’s too early to compare 2017’s IPO crop closely to 2016’s. That said, we can still parse out some interesting numbers from the cadre of newly public tech companies in 2017. So, under that edict, let’s explore.

Who

The nine companies that have gone public this year in alphabetical order are Alteryx, Carvana, Cloudera, Elevate Credit, Mulesoft, Netshoes, Okta, Snap and Yext. (The list would have a tenth entrant, of course, if not for AppDynamics’ pre-IPO exit.)

The list of companies includes a number of enterprise-facing concerns, a Brazilian e-commerce company (listed on the New York Stock Exchange, thus making the cut), and whatever Snap calls itself. All told, it’s a moderately diverse mix of companies that vary, in terms of value, from just a few hundred million dollars to tens of billions.

That range brings us to the question of relative scale. Let’s see where the numbers take us.

Scale

According to amended Google Finance data — you can follow along on a public copy of the raw figures here — the rank list of the most valuable 2017 tech IPOs is stark:

  • Snap is the most valuable 2017 tech IPO by more than $20 billion.
  • The second most valuable is Mulesoft, which is worth over $2.9 billion today.
  • Cloudera comes in third, nearly tied with Okta at over $2.3 billion. The irony of Cloudera coming in third place is the sheer amount of opprobrium (guilty!) it has received for going public at a discount to its final private valuation.
  • Two-thirds of 2017 tech IPOs are worth more than $1 billion. Three are worth less than 10 figures.
  • Only one enterprise-facing software company among the list is worth less than $1 billion.

The aggregate value of our nine IPOs is $37.5 billion. That allows us to deduce the following comparative metrics: Snap is worth more than two-thirds of all 2017 tech IPOs, tipping the scales at 68.8 percent; and Mulesoft, the second most valuable public 2017 IPO, clocks in at just 7.8 percent.

And, just for fun, the five-largest tech companies by market cap have gained nearly $50 billion in aggregate market cap today alone, more than the value of all 2017 IPOs.

Losses And Pace

This year, the media has mostly focused on the pace of growth and the value of that growth when it comes to IPOs.

This is reasonable. After all, many tech companies are valued more on their expansion prospects than on their potential for near-term shareholder remuneration via cash disbursements or buybacks.

Growth remains king.

As it turns out, that is a damn good thing for the 2017 set of U.S.-listed tech IPOs. Not one of these companies has a price/earnings ratio. That’s to say that they all lose money. Not one is profitable.

I can hear your complaints already: tech IPOs are supposed to lose money due to substantial investment in growth. But that disregards the fact that four of the five largest tech companies by market cap were profitable at IPO, at least one 2016 IPO was profitable at the time of its debut (Acacia Communications, the year’s second IPO), and another was close (Line). So perhaps we’ll see some companies in the black make it across the finish line as the year progresses.

I raise all of that to underscore the pace-to-date of IPOs this year. By May 1, 2016, the year’s IPO tally was one, and by mid-May, it had crawled to two. This year, two companies went public last Friday alone, and the pipeline includes published S-1s.

In 2017, we have averaged an IPO every 13.3 days—just under two weeks. 2016, by mid-May, was at a pace of one every 66.5 days.

That’s quite an acceleration.

Looking Ahead

It’s been a great year thus far for startup and unicorn liquidity alike. That is partially due to the Nasdaq setting new highs on a seemingly regular basis. (It’s not as hard to IPO when tech stocks are at record prices, as you can imagine.)

What will be interesting to see is how many more companies can make it out before the market changes, and the IPO window closes, if only in part.

We’ll check back in after the next few debuts to see what’s changed.



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