Biggest tech IPOs of 2018

Initial public offerings (IPOs), where a private company offers its stock on a public exchange for the first time, provide a business with instant liquidity, publicity and often a return for employees and early investors.

The technology IPO market bounced back a bit in 2017, after a historically bad year in 2016. The result has been a raft of highly-anticipated IPOs at the start of 2018 including Spotify and Dropbox.

So, in reverse chronological order, here are some of the biggest tech IPOs of the year so far, as well as some upcoming IPOs in the months ahead.

Majority of figures are in $ USD and come from Google Finance.

SoftBank - December

SoftBank - December

The mobile operator arm of Japanese telco-turned-mega-investor SoftBank Group floated on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on 19 December in what was the largest Japanese float of all time at $23.5 billion.

That being said the SoftBank Corp IPO was a disappointment for the group and its founder Masayoshi Son, as shares tumbled by more than 14% on debut, thanks in part to dented confidence following a recent service outage to the telecoms operator's network. This is unusual for Japanese IPOs, with just seven of 82 floats this year opening below their offering price, according to Reuters.

The group was always set to raise around 2.65 trillion yen ($23.5 billion) after pricing its stock at 1,500 yen ($13.35) apiece, but the stock closed at 1,282 yen. This kept the IPO just shy of the record $25 billion raised in 2014 by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is in the SoftBank portfolio.

SoftBank has the world's biggest private equity fund for investing in technology companies at nearly $100 billion, and will continue to invest in startups. Its portfolio includes WeWork, UK startups Deliveroo and Improbable, robot maker Boston Dynamics, chipmakers Arm and Nvidia, and ride-hailing firms Grab, Ola and Uber, which is due to its own blockbuster IPO next year.

Tencent Music - December

Tencent Music - December

Tencent Music Entertainment finally floated on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, 11 December, raising $1.1 billion.

Amidst market caution around Chinese stocks the list price fell to the low end of its range at $13, valuing the company at $21.3 billion, quite below its expected valuation of $25-30 billion when it announced its intentions to float.

Tencent Music has 800 million monthly users, but only 25 million are paying customers. European streaming giant Spotify by comparison has just 180 million monthly users, but more than 80 million pay for the service.

SolarWinds - October

SolarWinds - October

The monitoring software specialist SolarWinds floated in October, raising just $375 million, despite originally expecting an IPO of around $756 million, due to market volatility.

The Austin, Texas-based SaaS vendor priced its IPO at the low end of its range of $15-$16, which was also reduced from an original range of $17-$19, marking one of the few disappointing SaaS floats all year.

Anaplan - October 2018
© Anaplan

Anaplan - October 2018

Anaplan had a great debut on the the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 12, despite tough market conditions, with shares popping by as much as 43 percent to $24.30 by the end of the day, valuing the company at nearly $3 billion.

The software company, which was founded here in York but has since relocated to Silicon Valley, listed under the ticker symbol PLAN, offering 15,500,000 shares of its common stock at $17.

Read next: New Anaplan CEO Frank Calderoni lays out his vision for the SaaS unicorn as it prepares for an IPO

To put Anaplan's strategy into a soundbite, the SaaS vendor provides customers with "connected planning". So instead of various disconnected Excel spreadsheets dotted throughout an organisation, employees can collaborate on a single data model in real time by utilising the cloud-based, in-memory system.

Anaplan achieved unicorn status in January 2016 when it was valued at over $1 billion following a $90 million funding round. For the six-month period ending July 31 the company reported revenue of $109 million, up 41 percent year-on-year at a net loss of $47 million in the period.

SurveyMonkey - September 2018
© SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey - September 2018

SurveyMonkey raised $180 million in a strong initial public offering on 26 September, with its stock price closing 44% up from its initial price.

The online polling company sold 15 million shares at $12, higher than its expected price of $9-11, as well as selling $40 million in stock to Salesforce's venture capital arm, valuing it at $1.5 billion.

The San Mateo-founded company dates back to 1999 and has 16 million active users, according to its SEC filing, with just 3.8 percent of those paying users.

Farfetch - September 2018
© Farfetch

Farfetch - September 2018

Luxury online retail company Farfetch floated on the New York Stock Exchange on 21 September at $27, up 35 percent on its opening price of $20, valuing it at $5.8 billion.

Farfetch had been keen to position itself as a tech company in the build up to the IPO, stating in its F-1 that 35 percent of total headcount at the end of last year came from the technology and product department, with 802 full-time data scientists, engineers and product employees.

The word "technology" also came up 173 times in the filing, including: "We are a technology company at our core and have created a purpose-built platform for the luxury fashion industry. Our platform consists of three main components: applications, services and data."

This would seemingly justify the firm's ambitious proposed valuation of $5 billion from just $385 million in revenues, with an after-tax loss of $112 million. For the sake of comparison, US retail giant Macy's has a market cap of more than $12 billion from quarterly revenues in excess of $5 billion.

Eventbrite - September 2018
© Eventbrite

Eventbrite - September 2018

Eventbrite had a very good opening day on the New York Stock exchange on 20 September, with its price surging by as much as 70 percent, valuing the company at close to $3 billion.

After pricing shares at $23 they opened at $36 and climbed as high as $39 and ending the day at $36.50.

The ticketing site posted losses of $40 million in 2016 and $38.5 million in 2017, but its revenue is rising, from $133 million in 2016 to $201 million last year.

NIO - September 2018

NIO - September 2018

Chinese electric carmaker and burgeoning Telsa rival NIO had an uninspiring debut on the New York Stock Exchange on 12 September.

Stock opened below guidance at $6.26 before falling by as much as 15% and then rebounding to close 5.4% higher than opening, which values the company at $6.4 billion. Tesla has a market cap of $50 billion at the time of writing.

The Shanghai-based company run at a net loss of $503 million in the first six months of the year on $6.95 million in revenue. The company is run by billionaire William Li and backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Sonos - August 2018
© Sonos

Sonos - August 2018

The connected speaker maker Sonos went public on 2 August, with shares popping 30 percent to close at $19.91 (£15.30), valuing the company at $2.4 billion (£1.85 billion).

Sonos sells a whole range of speakers but its core product is the ability to link these throughout a household and control what is played through an app, so the kids can listen to a podcast in their room and the parents can listen to Taylor Swift in the living room.

The company looked at threat from the boom in smart speakers made by Amazon, Apple and Google, but has successfully partnered with Amazon and is rumoured to be linking up with Google soon, maintaining its positioning as an open, premium option in the market.

The company did recognise the inherent risk in these partnerships in its S-1 filing however, stating: "These technology partners may cease doing business with us or disable the technology they provide our products for a variety of reasons, including to promote their products over our own."

As noted by the Financial Times, hardware tech companies like Fitbit and GoPro have had a tough time in the public markets as of late. Speaking to the paper, Vnce Rivers, senior portfolio manager at JO Hambro Capital Management said: "It's really hard for hardware companies to maintain significant product differentiation over time."

Xiaomi - July 2018
© Xiaomi

Xiaomi - July 2018

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi disappointed in its Hong Kong stock exchange debut in what was expected to be the biggest Chinese IPO since Alibaba.

Xiaomi priced its IPO at the bottom end of a range at HK$17 (£1.63), cutting its valuation roughly in half to around US$54 billion (£40.7 billion). It then opened trading on July 9 down 2% and by as much as 6% during its first day. Following the deduction of fees and expenses the company raised US$3 billion (£2.26 billion).

Shares did rebound a little, up 13% on the firm's second day of trading.

Domo - June 2018
© Domo

Domo - June 2018

The Utah-based data analytics company founded by Josh James - who sold the web analytics company Omniture to Adobe in 2009 for $1.8 billion - had a slightly rockier time of it than many firms on this list.

Despite shares popping 30 percent on debut on 29 June, Domo had valued shares within its range at $21 (£15.80), whereas most technology IPOs the year have priced at the top end or even above their range. This gave the company a market cap of around $700 million ($528 million), which is well shy of its private market valuation of $2 billion (£1.5 billion).

Domo admitted in its pre-IPO SEC filing that it was running out of cash, so this injection was much needed, even if it slashed the value of the company.

Adyen - June 2018

Adyen - June 2018

Dutch fintech company Adyen saw shares surge nearly 90 percent on the first day of trading on June 13 on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange.

In what soon became one of the biggest European technology IPOs in recent year, the payments company saw shares pop to €400 (£350) initially, a 66 percent rise from its pricing of €240 (£210). Shares finished the day up further at €440 (£385), valuing the company at €13.4 billion (£11.7 billion).

Adyen had initially priced its shares at the high end of the scale at €240 (£210), giving the company a valuation of €7.1 billion (£6.2 billion).

It's worth noting that Adyen was not issuing new shares, instead allowing existing shareholders to sell their stock.

Pluralsight - May 2018
© Pluralsight

Pluralsight - May 2018

Pluralsight had a great opening day on the Nasdaq stock exchange on May 17, with shares closing at $20, up 34% above the $15 list price. It raised $311 million at an implied valuation of close to $2 billion.

The Utah-based edtech company has built an online teaching platform for digital skills, from programming languages to specific software suites like Adobe. It relies on a broad network of expert authors to contribute content and courses onto the platform, with the best authors able to make millions of dollars a year.

There is an enterprise version of the platform for corporate customers, of which it counts nearly 15,000, paying $699 per seat, per year.

Read next: Pluralsight CEO explains how its SaaS training platform can help close digital skills gap

The CEO of the online training course specialists Aaron Skonnard told Computerworld UK in June last year: “We don't actually need the capital infusion that would come with that and we have been growing quickly.

“So where we stand today, and as far as timing around an IPO, we recognise that there will be a lot of value in the brand and name recognition that comes with that, and we will determine when the time is right.”

Avast - May 2018
© Avast

Avast - May 2018

Avast Software started conditional trading on the London Stock Exchange on 17 May 2018, a rare technology debut on the London market. The Czech company priced shares at the bottom end of its range pitched to investors, at £2.50.

It raised £148 million, valuing the company at £2.4 billion, making it the largest float in London this year and one of the biggest European IPOs of all time.

The cybersecurity vendor operates in a competitive market, with McAfee, Symatec and Sophos all offering rival solutions.

The company reported adjusted revenues of $780m in 2017 and adjusted cash earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation of $451m.

DocuSign - April 2018
© Docusign

DocuSign - April 2018

DocuSign closed its first day of trading at $39.96, up nearly 38 percent from its IPO price of $29. This valued the company at $6 billion, which is double its last valuation following a $233 million investment round in 2015.

The vendor specialises in e-signature software, which is sold as-a-service. It allows organisations to facilitate the electronic signing of paperwork, enabling the authentication and exchange of electronic documents.

Read next: What the DocuSign IPO could mean for the e-signature market

DocuSign recorded revenues up 36 percent year-on-year to more than $518 million in 2017, at an annual loss of around $50 million.

Smartsheet - April 2018
© Smartsheet

Smartsheet - April 2018

Bellevue, Washington-based SaaS company Smartsheet debuted on 27 April, the same day as Docusign. It closed trading at $19.50, up 30 percent from its initial price of $15, giving it a market cap of $1.9 billion.

The vendor specialises in enterprise collaboration software and counts 3.6 million users. The core product is a planning tool for teams which automatically captures and reports on work progress for managers.

Read next: The best enterprise collaboration software

The company had revenues of $111.3 million for its 2018 fiscal year, up from $67 million for 2017 and $40.8 million for 2016, according to its S-1 filing. Losses also grew, totalling $49.1 million for 2018, up from negative $15.2 million and $14.3 million in prior years.

Pivotal - April 2018
© Pivotal

Pivotal - April 2018

Cloud vendor Pivotal floated on the New York Stock Exchange on April 20, opening at $16.75 per share before popping up 10 percent and settling modestly up at $15.73 at the close of the day, valuing the company at around $3 billion. Pivotal had initially priced its stock at $15 before trading.

The company was spun out of DellEMC and VMware in 2013 after being founded as a software consultancy by Rob Mee. It has seen its revenue nearly double from $280.8 million in the fiscal year ending in 2016 to $509 million in the fiscal year ending in 2018, thanks largely to its open source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering: Pivotal Cloud Foundry. This offers customers the option of developing apps on a range of cloud infrastructure providers.

Pivotal has raised $1.7 billion in venture funding since 2013, including from General Electric, Ford, and Microsoft.

This move comes at an interesting time for Dell, with rumours swirling that it was looking to re-enter public markets via a public offering of common stock or a combination with VMware, after its founded Michael Dell had taken the company private in a $24.9 billion leveraged buyout in 2013.

Read next: An end to AWS' public cloud dominance? Cloud Foundry offers vision of multi-cloud era

Zuora - April 2018
© Zuora

Zuora - April 2018

Zuora went public on April 12, closing its first day up 43% to $20 a share, valuing it at $2 billion. The company originally priced its IPO at $14 per share, higher than the expected $11 to $13, on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ZUO.”

The San Mateo-based company builds software to help businesses manage subscription billing and forecasting. Following Dropbox's IPO investors have shown a healthy appetite towards subscription revenue models, Zuora’s software helps nearly 1,000 companies manage these subscriptions.

Read next: Financial Times expands digital subscription services with cloud billing platform

The company had revenues of $168 million with a $47 million net loss in the 2018 financial year.

Spotify - April 2018
© Spotify

Spotify - April 2018

Popular music streaming service Spotify took an unusual route to IPO, opting for a direct listing instead. This is where the company doesn't issue new shares or seek to raise money through the process of going public, instead it gives existing shareholders the option to sell their shares to the public.

This is a particularly attractive strategy for companies swimming in private funding, and could signal a viable approach for a number of other tech unicorns.

Read next: Everything you need to know about the Spotify IPO

The strategy certainly worked for the Swedish company, with shares - trading as SPOT on the New York Stock Exchange - 'popping' up to $165 (£118) on opening, way above its guide price of $132 (£93). They soon fell back a bit to $149 (£106) a share, but that still valued the company at $26.5 billion (£18.8 billion).

For context that's more than Snap's controversial IPO, which saw the social media company valued at $28 billion (£23 billion) at the close of its first day of trading last year. However its market cap has fallen dramatically since to nearer $19 billion (£13.5 billion). Twitter was valued at $24 billion (£17 billion) after a good first day back in 2013 and then fell to nearer $21 billion (£15 billion).

Spotify generated revenue of €4 billion (£3.5 billion) last year, up from €3 billion (£2.6 billion) the year prior, for growth of 39%. The company’s losses, however, more than doubled, reaching €1.25 billion (£1.1 billion) in 2017 versus €539 million (£470 million) in 2016.

Dropbox - March 2018
© Dropbox

Dropbox - March 2018

Cloud storage specialists Dropbox opened its first day of trading as a public company up 35%, with shares priced at $21 - just above its expected price of $18-20.

Dropbox ended the day of trading with a market valuation of around $9 billion. It's pure-play cloud storage rival Box has a market cap of around $2.8 billion at the time of writing.

Read next: Dropbox vs Box: What's the best cloud storage for your business?

Zscaler - March 2018
© Zscaler

Zscaler - March 2018

Enterprise cloud security company Zscaler had a solid debut, seeing shares rise 106% on its first day of trading. After pricing at $16 a share, Zscaler opened at $27.50, and closed at $34. The company ultimately raised $192 million.

For its fiscal year in 2015, revenue was $53.7 million, 2016 grew to $80.3 million and 2017 saw $125.7 million. It is still incurring net losses in the tens of millions though: $12.8 million in 2015, $27.4 million in 2016 and $35.5 million in 2017.

Read next: The UK's most promising cybersecurity startups

Cardlytics - February 2018
© Cardlytics

Cardlytics - February 2018

Cardlytics made its public debut in February, closing the day at $13.37 per share, just a little above the IPO price of $13. It sold 5.4 million shares, raising $70 million in total.

The Atlanta-based company runs cash back programmes for big banks like Bank of America and SunTrust.

It partners with major retail and travel brands to offer customers select deals, with the discounts being automatically applied at checkout.

It then sells consumer insights back to marketers so they can see where consumers are spending both online and in-store.

Cardlytics is not yet making money, however. It brought $112.8 million in revenue for 2016, but had losses of $75.7 million. Revenue for 2015 was $77.6 million, with losses of $40.6 million.

Upcoming tech IPOs

Upcoming tech IPOs

The strong Spotify and Dropbox IPOs appear to have buoyed a bunch of companies to jump into public markets, with a range of well known unicorns set to float in 2019, including:

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