Will the ‘Appian way’ lead more startups to Wall Street?

Contact: Brenon Daly

With Appian’s debut on the Nasdaq earlier this week, the tech IPO market has hit an early summer vacation. Right now, there are no tech companies on file, at least not publicly. So with no offerings (officially) to look ahead to, it’s worth taking a look back on what we’ve already seen from recent new listings.

The first impression is that there aren’t very many of them. By our count, just five enterprise tech vendors have made it public so far this year. Further, the pace for the remainder of 2017 isn’t expected to accelerate. Respondents to a recent survey from 451 Research and law firm Morrison & Foerster predicted just 15 tech IPOs this year. (451 Research subscribers can see our full report on the current IPO market, as well as a few of the firms that we think could be in Wall Street’s ‘class of 2017.’)

But to even hit that number of IPOs, we might suggest that Wall Street look to more companies like Appian rather than the other four tech vendors that also made it public this year. (See our full report on Appian’s offering.) What we mean by that is Appian is far more representative of the broader startup universe than high-profile unicorns such as Okta, Alteryx, MuleSoft or Cloudera. Certainly, more startups can relate to Appian’s capital structure than any of the other recent debutants. Appian raised just $48m as a private company, compared with $163m for Alteryx, $220m for Okta, $259m for MuleSoft and more than $1bn for Cloudera. In fact, all four of the unicorn IPOs raised more in a single round of private-market funding than Appian did in total VC funding.

Not having done an IPO-sized funding in the private market meant that Appian could come public with a more modest raise. (It took in just $75m, compared with this year’s previous IPOs that raised, on average, $190m for the four unicorns.) And, probably most importantly, the Appian offering showed that these types of IPOs can work, both for issuers and investors. (Appian created about $900m of market value, and saw its shares finish the first day of trading up about 25%.) So when it comes to IPOs for the second half of this year, the ‘Appian way’ could help a lot more startups make it to Wall Street.

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @451TechMnA.