Biggest tech IPOs of 2021

After a big year for tech firms in 2020, will the lasting effects of the pandemic continue to affect the tech stock boom in 2021?

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The 2020 calendar year will long be remembered as an annus horribilis for most, except for a handful of technology companies that reaped the rewards of a global shift to remote work with successful initial public offerings (IPOs).

US companies alone raised a record $435 billion in stock sales in 2020, with more than a quarter of that figure coming from IPOs — far outstripping 2014's mark of $279 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The vast majority of those new listings defined themselves as technology companies.

Cloud-based software firms like Zoom, Snowflake, Asana, Airbnb, and Palantir all performed particularly well, and continue to see their stock price flourish as remote work and e-commerce continue to be the norm for many into 2021.

The question now is whether this trend will continue through the year. There are a host of companies eying an early debut in 2021 to take advantage of favorable conditions. But, as with all market debuts, timing will be everything, with a number of industry analysts increasingly warning of a bubble.

Here are the biggest technology IPOs of the year so far.

Darktrace

UK cybersecurity company Darktrace floated on the London Stock Exchange on Apri 30l, with shares rising by as much as 43% to £3.58 on the first day of trading. That's up from its guide price of £2.50, giving the company a value of around £2.4 billion.

Founded in 2013 by a group of mathematicians and ex-Intelligence agents, the Cambridge-based firm uses machine learning techniques to analyze enterprise data to help detect and respond to cyber security threats. It generated revenue of almost $200 million in revenue in its latest financial year, running a small profit of $9 million.

Darktrace is also still grappling with an association with founding investor Mike Lynch, who faces extradition to the US over charges of fraud related to Hewlett-Packard’s $11 billion acquisition of his company Autonomy.

The cybersecurity company followed in the footsteps of Trustpilot and PensionBee in recent solid tech floats on the London exchange, all of which fared better than food delivery company Deliveroo, which had a disastrous debut.

PensionBee

UK-based Fintech company PensionBee successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange on April 21, pricing shares at £1.65, somewhere in the middle of its pre-IPO range of £1.55-£1.75. That put the company's value at £365 million.

The core PensionBee product allows customers to consolidate various pensions into a single plan, accessible through web and mobile apps.

UiPath

UiPath closed its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $69 on April 21, up 23% from its guide price of $52-$54 and valuing the software company at $35.8 billion. The company last raised $750 million in Series F funding in February 2021, at a post-money valuation of $35 billion.

Founded in Romania in 2005, UiPath specializes in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software, which promises to do away with repetitive menial tasks to free up employee time. Customers include the likes of Cleveland Clinic, which used UiPath software to register patients attending COVID-19 testing sites and automatically print labels.

UiPath has quickly rising revenues, at $608 million for the last financial year, running at a narrowing net loss of $92 million, down from $519.9 million in 2019.

Coinbase

Coinbase, the company behind the popular cryptocurrency exchange, floated on the Nasdaq on April 14, with shares jumping by as much as 71% on debut, up from its reference price of $250. The stock closed its first day at $328.28, valuing the company at $85.8 billion; that's more than double the market cap of Swiss mining giant Glencore or America’s oldest bank BNY Mellon.

Coinbase opted for a direct listing instead of a traditional IPO, where no new shares are created and no underwriters are involved — that route has proved popular in the past with tech companies like Spotify, Slack, and Palantir.

Based in San Francisco, Coinbase has 6 million monthly active users who trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum on its platform. The company garnered headlines in 2020 when CEO Brian Armstrong published a controversial blog post banning employees from discussing or engaging with social or political causes. This week, he became one of America’s richest entrepreneurs.

Coinbase made $1.3 billion in revenue in its last financial year — up from $534 million the previous year — turning a profit of $322 million in 2020 after losing $30 million in 2019, according to a filing with US securities regulators.

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean had a disappointing float on the New York Stock Exchange on March 24, with its stock sinking 9.6% on its first day. The New York-based cloud firm initially priced its IPO at $47, which was on the top end of the expected range of $44 to $47. It closed its first day at $42.50 a share, valuing the company at $4.5 billion.

DigitalOcean promises a simple platform for software developers to quickly spin up and host applications in the cloud on virtual private servers (VPS); it competes with the big cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and other Platform as a Service providers such as Heroku, a Salesforce company, and VPS vendors like Linode.

Like many tech companies at IPO, DigitalOcean is not profitable, having registered a net loss of $44 million on revenue of $318 million in 2020.

Trustpilot

Reviews website Trustpilot floated on the London Stock Exchange on March 23, where its stock surged by as much as 11% on debut, hitting £2.95 a share, up from its offer price of £2.65 ($3.65). That puts the company value at £1.1 billion.

The Danish firm collates independent reviews for online businesses and counted as many as 120 million reviews by the end of 2020, for everything from utilities providers to yoga studios. It makes money by selling subscriptions to businesses who want to engage with consumer reviews in their marketing campaigns. Its revenue was up 25% in 2020, reaching $102 million at a loss of $12.2 million.

Olo

Food-ordering software maker Olo raised $450 million in an initial public offering on March 17. The New York-based SaaS company sold 18 million shares at $25 each, above its pre-IPO range of $20 to $22, valuing the company at $3.55 billion.

Olo software powers loyalty programs and allows restaurants to manage orders and menus and currently counts a range of US-based customers including Five Guys, California Pizza Kitchen, and The Cheesecake Factory.

Qualtrics

Utah-based software company Qualtrics went public on Jan. 28, just two years after its $8 billion acquisition by German software giant SAP on the eve of its first planned IPO in 2018.

Qualtrics initially priced its IPO at $30 per share, which was the top end of its expected range, before popping a massive 52% on its Nasdaq debut. It closed at $45.50 a share, valuing the firm at $27.3 billion.

Founded by brothers Ryan and Jared Smith alongside their father and fourth co-founder Stuart Orgill, Qualtrics started life as an online survey software provider before growing into a platform for large companies like Disney, BMW and Adidas to collect a variety of "experience data" from employees and customers.

Qualtrics fared pretty well as part of the SAP family, growing revenue 30% in the first three quarters of 2020 to $550 million. It did continue to operate at a loss of $244 million however, with $218 million of stock-based compensation skewing that number pretty dramatically.

SAP will maintain majority ownership of the vendor post-IPO, and private equity firm Silver Lake now owns a little over 4% of the stock. Ryan Smith has somewhat stepped away from the day-to-day running of Qualtrics since taking majority ownership of the NBA team the Utah Jazz last year.

Still to list

Other companies rumored to be lining up a 2021 IPO include Instacart, ZipRecruiter, Coursera, Bumble, Squarespace, and Coinbase.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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