Two different companies, two different exits

by Brenon Daly

Maybe Anaplan can pull off what its rival Adaptive Insights failed to do: make it to Wall Street. The two corporate performance management (CPM) vendors put in their IPO paperwork just four months apart, but the outcomes for the two companies are looking very different. While Adaptive Insights is probably more at home inside the portfolio of an existing enterprise software provider, Anaplan’s stronger financial profile makes it far more likely to go public and continue this year’s bullish run of enterprise software offerings.

By any number of measures at these two vendors, Anaplan’s financials are more in line with what public market investors want to see. (We would note that measuring financials is essentially what the software from each of these companies actually does.) Anaplan is half again as big as Adaptive Insights, and it’s increasing sales at a more rapid clip (40% growth for Anaplan, compared with 30% at Adaptive Insights.) Anaplan’s scale and trajectory put it more in line with other recent enterprise software debutants such as Pluralsight and Zuora.

The fact that Anaplan has lost roughly twice as much as Adaptive Insights in recent quarters due to comparatively rich sales and marketing spending probably won’t trouble public market investors, who have been focused on the top line of this year’s IPOs rather than the bottom line. Lingering concerns around Anaplan’s red ink will likely be eased if Wall Street looks at the company’s customer retention rate of roughly 120%, which puts it in the top segment for SaaS vendors. For comparison, Adaptive Insights renewed customer contracts each year at only about 100% of their value.

All of that points to Anaplan enjoying at least some premium valuation to its CPM rival. In its dual-track process, Adaptive Insights ended up selling to SaaS stalwart Workday for $1.6bn, or 13.6x trailing sales. That’s also roughly the current trading valuation for recent software debutant Zuora.

Although Zuora and Anaplan serve vastly different markets, they are identically sized ($109m in 1H 2018 revenue, with each putting up a majority of subscription sales combined with a bit of professional services) and share a similar growth trajectory. Putting the mid-teens price-to-sales valuation on Anaplan’s trailing sales of $168m puts the CPM provider in the neighborhood of $2.5bn market value, which would work out to roughly 10x forward sales, based on our estimates. Assuming that’s the case, Anaplan’s IPO exit could well be worth $1bn more than Adaptive Insights’ M&A exit.

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Monkeying around on Wall Street

by Brenon Daly
After closing out a busy first half of 2018 with a lackluster offering, the tech IPO market isn’t looking like it will start the second half much stronger. SurveyMonkey has publicly filed its prospectus on an offering that will test Wall Street’s appetite for money-losing companies that don’t offset the red ink with sizzling revenue growth. The company’s age (19 years old) is higher than its growth rate (currently 14%).

Founded at the tail end of the frothy years of the dot-com bubble, the online survey provider has nonetheless enjoyed a frothy valuation of its own as it collected more than $1bn in debt and equity funding. Private-market investors have put a $2bn price on the company. SurveyMonkey’s ‘double unicorn’ valuation works out to about 8x this year’s projected revenue.

However, our forecast for a quarter-billion dollars in 2018 revenue assumes the company can continue its mid-teen growth. (That may not be a given, since SurveyMonkey increased sales just 6% in 2017.) For comparison, Dropbox – a similarly heavily funded startup that, like SurveyMonkey, also relies on lots of users choosing, at some point, to pay for the service – came to market earlier this year growing 30%. And the online collaboration vendor does more sales in a single quarter than SurveyMonkey does all year.

So Wall Street will undoubtedly scrutinize SurveyMonkey’s financial performance, which shows revenue increasing at just one-half to one-quarter the pace of other software IPOs this year. And they will look even harder at the offering since investors are still underwater from the most-recent tech IPO, Domo. Like SurveyMonkey, the BI specialist had probably drawn in as much money as it could get from private-market investors, so it turned to Wall Street. That’s hardly a compelling pitch for investors.

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A fashionable offering

by Scott Denne

Nabbing a valuation beyond its last venture round will be challenging for Farfetch, the latest consumer company to take a step toward the public markets by unveiling its IPO prospectus. As it bids to join the NYSE, Portugal’s Farfetch flaunts enviable growth and a favorable macroclimate, although its valuation will need a substantial premium above its peer group to have an up-round.

In operating an online marketplace for fashion brands and luxury boutiques, Farfetch generated $481m in trailing revenue. The company’s last venture round valued it north of $2bn, or 5x that amount – a steep hill for an e-commerce vendor, considering that such outlets rarely fetch above 2x from Wall Street. Online furniture seller Wayfair, for example, trades at about 2x – Groupon and trade below 1x.

Yet Farfetch has several factors working in its favor. For one, there’s a complementary economic environment. According to 451 Research’s most recent VoCUL: Consumer Spending report, in each of the past six months, over 30% of consumers have said they plan to spend more in the next 90 days. And 451 Research’s forthcoming Global Unified Commerce Forecast expects more of that spending to flow online (16% CAGR through 2022) than offline (2% CAGR). (We’ll be hosting a webinar to preview that report in September, readers can sign up here.)

Also, digital retailers specializing in clothing and fashion tend to be valued higher – by both acquirers and public investors – than the broader e-commerce category. According to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase, online retailers sold in the past 48 months fetched a median 1.1x trailing revenue. In recent sales of fashion-related sites, valuations have come in higher. Younique hit 2.5x in its $600m sale to Coty last year and Farfetch’s more mature rival, YOOX Net-A-Porter, landed 1.7x in its January sale to Richemont.

On the public markets, Stitch Fix, a personalized fashion retailer that went public last year, trades just above 3x. Farfetch would likely pass that marker – its topline expanded 55% compared with 33% for Stitch Fix and it has gross margins barely above 50%, whereas Stitch Fix is closer to 40%. Still, to match its private valuation, the would-be public company would need two full turns above Stitch Fix. That may not be, well, farfetched, but it’s a stretch.

Needs and wants

Thinking big – and spending even bigger – has landed Josh James in a tough spot. That will become clear later this week, when the company that James heads, Domo, prices its IPO. But it’s even more clear when we compare the planned offering by the current company led by James with the mid-2006 offering by the previous company led by James, Omniture. Simply put, it’s the difference between a company going public because it wants to (Omniture) rather than because it needs to (Domo).

The IPO papers show that although the two companies have the same CEO, somewhere over the past dozen years, James lost fiscal rigor. The relatively parsimonious operations last decade at Omniture gave way to a lavish lifestyle at Domo, which has resulted in James having to tap Wall Street to keep the lights on. Consider this: in the final quarter before the offering, Domo is roughly twice the size of Omniture, but is losing 10 times more money, on both an operating and net basis.

Looking closer at the two prospectuses, it quickly becomes clear how Domo’s financials became so deeply stained in red compared with Omniture. Even in its early days, Omniture never really spent more than half of its revenue on sales and marketing. For the two years after its IPO, Omniture spent 44% of revenue on sales and marketing, a level that’s consistent with other hyper-growth SaaS vendors.

Domo, on the other hand, has spent more on sales and marketing than it has taken in for revenue on every single financial period it has reported. And, more to the point, the huge investment isn’t really paying off for Domo, certainly not the way it did for Omniture. Domo, which is reporting decelerating growth, posted just a 32% increase in revenue in its most recent quarter, while Omniture basically doubled revenue every year on its way to creating a $300m-revenue company just two years after its IPO.

Put it altogether, and Domo has piled up a mountainous $800m in accumulated deficit. In comparison, Omniture burned through just $35m on its way to Wall Street. In the current era of mega-fundings and ‘growth at all costs’ business plans, Omniture’s paltry deficit seems almost quaint. So, too, does the fact that just four banks took the company public, half the number listed for Domo and most other software IPOs these days.

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

Proofpoint refills the IPO pipeline

Contact: Brenon Daly

Wedged between the strong debuts this week of two tech companies, Proofpoint has put in its paperwork to refill the IPO pipeline. The subscription-based email security vendor filed for a rather small $50m offering, which is being led by Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. Earlier this week, Jive Software hit the market well above its expected price while Zynga raised a cool $1bn as it priced its offering at the top end of its range.

Founded in 2002 by a former Netscape executive, Proofpoint has expanded beyond its core email security. Most recently, we noted that the company has begun to position itself as a full compliance platform, complete with email discovery and litigation support. While Proofpoint’s technology is solid, Wall Street may be left wanting a bit more from its financials.

For starters, Proofpoint has never printed black numbers, and has wrung up a total of $155m in accumulated deficit. Meanwhile on the top line, the company increased revenue a less-than-stellar 27% through the first three quarters of 2012. That compares to 43% growth in sales over the same period at Imperva, the most recent security vendor to hit the public market. Proofpoint plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker PFPT.

The Houses of Morgan are in demand for on-demand work

Contact: Brenon Daly

It turns out that the advisers for the largest-ever SaaS acquisition are also the busiest in terms of restocking the ranks of publicly traded subscription-based software companies. J.P. Morgan Securities, which banked SAP, and Morgan Stanley, which advised SuccessFactors, are upper left on the prospectuses of no fewer than five SaaS vendors currently in registration. Between them, the ‘Houses of Morgan’ have a fairly tight grip on the sector, leading the proposed IPOs of on-demand software shops including Eloqua, ExactTarget, Bazaarvoice, Jive Software and Brightcove.

As lead underwriters, the banks stand to pocket tens of millions of dollars in fees from the upcoming offerings. Additionally, they are likely to build on that initial relationship through other advisory services for the companies. For instance, J.P. Morgan co-led Taleo’s IPO in 2005 and, more recently, advised it on its $125m purchase of On an even bigger scale, Morgan Stanley led the IPOs of both RightNow and SuccessFactors and then advised them on their sales, a pair of deals that totaled a whopping $5bn.

Big money, behind closed doors

Contact: Brenon Daly

Who needs to go public when there’s so much late-stage money sloshing around out there? That question hit us in the head this week after two startups announced, separately, that they were each raising $50m in new funding. First, it was marketing automation vendor Marketo saying it pulled in $50m in a new round led by Battery Ventures and then on Thursday, vulnerability management company Rapid7 also drew in that amount from Technology Crossover Ventures.

The latest round for Marketo, which effectively doubles the amount of capital it has raised, is particularly noteworthy. After all, Marketo has seen two of its main rivals track to the public market. Eloqua is currently on file for a $100m offering, while Responsys went public in late April, an offering that raised $79m.

In the case of Responsys, it may well consider itself fortunate that it raised money when it did. The company recently indicated that business through the end of the year is likely to be substantially slower than it had been. The warning knocked the stock about 25% below where it priced in April and half the level it had hit in the summer.

And the next IT security IPO is…

Contact: Brenon Daly

From what we hear, investors won’t have to wait anywhere close to another two years for an IPO by an information security vendor. In fact, a pair of companies is set to put in their paperwork, with at least one prospectus possibly filed yet this year. Those offerings would follow last week’s strong debut of Imperva, which was the first IPO in the information security sector since Fortinet hit the market in November 2009.

Since then, however, a half-dozen other security providers that we might have expected to go public – both those formally on file, as well as ones in the ‘shadow’ pipeline – have been snapped up in trade sales or have scrapped IPO plans. So which companies are likely to make it through the ongoing wave of consolidation and actually hit the public market?

Several sources have indicated that both AVG Technologies and AVAST Software have picked their underwriting teams and should be filing prospectuses in the coming weeks. In addition to similar timing on their IPOs, the two companies actually have a fair number of traits in common: both trace their roots back more than 20 years to Prague, and both are primarily known for their ‘freemium’ antivirus offering. Additionally, both AVG and AVAST boast that their products have been downloaded more than 100 million times.

Assuming AVG and AVAST do indeed file and come public, they will likely benefit from two key trends on Wall Street. First, there is a clear demand among investors for security companies. Consider the fact that they are valuing Imperva at a rather rich level of nearly seven times 2011 sales, with Fortinet commanding an even higher valuation.

Second, there has been a notable shift toward the ‘consumerization’ of IPOs. Tech vendors that have debuted so far this year such as LinkedIn, Pandora Media, HomeAway, Zillow and, of course, Groupon have not only dominated headlines, they have also raised significantly more money in their offerings than pure enterprise offerings. Most notably, Groupon raised $700m in its hotly debated IPO. But LinkedIn also raised $400m and Pandora raised $240m, which is more than twice the amount Imperva garnered in its offering, for instance. We’ll have a full look at the rumored offerings by AVG and AVAST, along with a broader look at the information security market, in a special report in tonight’s Daily 451.

In a flash, Fusion-IO plans secondary

Contact: Brenon Daly

Just eight months after first filing its IPO paperwork and a scant five months after debuting on the NYSE, Fusion-io has already indicated that there will be a lot more of its shares hitting the market in the coming days. The flash memory specialist plans to sell $100m worth of stock in a secondary, with insiders slated to sell another $250m. In its June IPO, Fusion-io raised more than $200m, selling over 10 million shares. In that offering, insiders sold only 1.5 million shares.

Even though other companies often get slammed for insiders ‘running for the exits’ when selling such a large slug of equity so quickly after the offering, Fusion-io stock barely moved when it announced the secondary. If nothing else, that was consistent with the vendor’s overall stunning aftermarket performance. It priced at $19, first traded in the low $20s and was flirting around $36 on Monday afternoon. And although the stock is highly volatile, with some 10% intra-day swings, it only dipped briefly below its offer price in late September. Overall, any investor who bought on the opening day in June is up about 50%, compared to a flat performance during that period on the Nasdaq.

In that way, Fusion-io is rather unique among the other enterprise technology firms that have gone public so far this year. Cornerstone OnDemand, which went public in March, hit the market at about $19. While Cornerstone held that level for its first four months as a public company, it has been underwater for the last four months. It is down about 25% while the Nasdaq has flatlined. Even more dramatically, Responsys has sunk to just half the level it first traded back in April. Although Responsys had been slipping steadily since early September, the online marketing vendor got buried last week when it warned – in just its third report to Wall Street – that sales in the final months of 2011 would increase only about one-third the rate that revenue had been growing.

Imperva: the strong, silent type

Contact: Brenon Daly

As far as tech IPOs are concerned, the two latest offerings could hardly be more different. Last week, we had the debut of Groupon – the daily deals site that is either the next Amazon or the next, depending on the point of view. The debate around Groupon raged loudly and publicly, dominating last week’s financial news broadcasts and financial sites. In contrast, Imperva quietly crept onto the public market on Wednesday, with little fanfare. (The company didn’t even get to ring the opening bell on the NYSE, where it started trading today. Instead, it’ll be doing the honors on Thursday.)

For all of the differences in attention for the two companies, however, there’s one important similarity: performance. Both offerings priced above their expected range and then surged in trading. Groupon, which has created more than $15bn in market value, is still above water. In its offering, Imperva has also put up a strong debut. The data security vendor priced its five-million-share offering at $18 each, above the expected range of $14-16. In midday trading, Imperva stock was changing hands at $24.50. With more than 22 million shares outstanding, Imperva’s offering created more than a half-billion dollars of market value.