December 30, 2015
Snapchat, Jessica Alba could put sexy back in the IPO market
Welcome to the silly season of initial public offerings, that slow news, end-of-year, holiday-infused time to speculate about which companies might hit the stock market in 2016.
The number one name on the tip of every speculator’s tongue is millennial messaging sensation Snapchat. The popular app, with over 100 million users at last count, said back in May that it planned to go public sooner or later and has since been hiring the kind of seasoned financial types that are needed to make that happen.
Conveniently, a Snapchat IPO could be just what the tech IPO market needs to snap out of its doldrums. By some measures, 2015 has been the slowest market for tech companies going public since 2009. And with half of the deals that did get underwritten now trading below their IPO price — hello, Etsy (ETSY) — there has been little holiday cheer to go around. The fast-growing, well-known, sexy L.A. company might be able to lift the gloom with a big deal that trades well. Then again, some said that about Square (SQ)… and Tinder (MTCH) …and Box (BOX).
Other big names getting bandied about include Jessica Alba’s organic diaper purveyor The Honest Company, glasses seller Warby Parker, and audio hardware maker Sonos.
But, again, it’s too soon to know whether any of these relatively famous names will crack the 2016 IPO rolls. A lot will depend on the stock market. Most already public tech companies had a mediocre year or worse and, as noted, recently public companies have done even worse. A little euphoria and higher valuations would do wonders to attract more of the big names.
Meanwhile, CB Insights has been tracking the universe of private companies and finds over 500 that may be getting close to going public. The firm’s list includes some of the well known companies mentioned above, though not Snapchat.
“That’d be a surprise, to be honest, for 2016,” says Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights. “Most of the names we’re seeing are enterprise or b2b focused.”
Among the most likely candidates, according to Sanwal’s firm, are less in the public eye and more focused on making other businesses run, like Actifio. The Waltham, Mass., company offers cloud file storage services to corporations like Dell and Time Warner. Another likely IPO-er is Okta. Its cloud service enables employees at companies like Del Monte and MGM Resorts to sign into all corporate services through a single cloud-based sign-on, making life simpler and more secure, at least in theory.
A few tech companies have recently filed IPOs, making them among the most likely to go public early in the new year. Nutanix, which makes storage systems, wants to raise $200 million according to a Dec. 22 filing. And Dell unit Secureworks filed for a spin-off IPO worth $100 million on Dec. 17.
And what about the real big game? The Ubers, the AirBnbs, the Xiaomis? All are valued in the tens of billions of dollars by their venture capital backers. None seem exactly eager to go public. But in the silly season, all speculation is fair game.
And no company trades on a U.S. exchange under the ticker symbol “SNAP” or “U” — at least not yet.