Dual track, but singular outcomes

Contact: Brenon Daly

For the third time in just two months, a tech company that had planned to go public has instead ended up inside a company that’s already public. The latest dual-track sale came Wednesday when Force10 Networks opted to accept a bid from Dell rather than see through its IPO plan. The networking gear vendor had filed its prospectus in March 2010.

The deal follows one month after would-be debutant Apache Design Solutions sold to ANSYS and two months after SiGe Semiconductor went to Skyworks Solutions. Those three transactions probably only generated about $1.2bn in liquidity, including Force10’s reported price of roughly $700m. (As a side note, we might point out that Deutsche Bank Securities was a book runner on all three proposed IPOs.)

As this trio of enterprise-focused startups finds itself snapped out of the IPO pipeline, consumer-oriented companies continue to receive a warm welcome on Wall Street. Consider this: Zillow, which went public earlier this week, now trades at about 20 times trailing revenue. In contrast, Force10, SiGe and Apache Design garnered much more modest valuations ranging roughly from 2-6x trailing revenue in their sales.