Rapid7 rapidly nears 10-digit valuation in IPO

Contact: Brenon Daly

Despite Wall Street being a fairly inhospitable place for recent tech IPOs, Rapid7 came to market Friday with a stunning debut. The vulnerability management vendor priced its 6.45-million-share offering at an above-range $16 each, with the stock surging to about $25 once it hit the Nasdaq. With roughly 38 million (undiluted) shares outstanding, Rapid7 is valued at $950m.

That’s a fairly strong valuation for a company that will only put up revenue of slightly more than $100m in 2015. Rapid7 generated revenue of $77m in 2014, an increase of 28%. It picked up its sales rate in the first quarter of 2015 to 41%. (Even if the company maintains that accelerated pace, however, it would still post just less than $110m in sales this year.) Further, Rapid7 does business in the old-fashioned license/maintenance model, rather than the subscription model that Wall Street favors. (See our preview of the IPO.)

Rapid7’s direct rival, Qualys, sells subscriptions only. It is about half again as big as Rapid7, tracking to a mid-20% growth rate that would result in almost $170m in revenue for 2015. (For what it’s worth, Qualys turns a profit while Rapid7 runs deeply in the red.) Wall Street values Qualys at $1.25bn, or 7.4x projected 2015 sales. That’s a full turn lower than the 8.6x projected 2015 sales that Wall Street is currently handing to Rapid7.

The premium valuation for Rapid7 stands out even more because virtually all of the other enterprise tech IPOs have all been discounted recently. The main reason: uncertainty on Wall Street. A just-published survey by ChangeWave Research, a service of 451 Research, found that more than half of the retail investors they surveyed are less confident about the direction of the US stock market than they were just in April. The 53% response, which tied a record for the survey, was six times higher than the percentage who said they were more confident about Wall Street. Keep in mind, too, that uncertainty tends to hit unknown, unproven companies – like IPOs – much harder than established tech names.

To see how that has pressured other newly listed companies, consider the two enterprise tech vendors to brave the IPO market in the US last quarter: Apigee and Xactly. Both have been roughed up on Wall Street, and are currently underwater. The muted reception extended to Sophos, the only other infosec provider to come public in 2015. That company, which listed on its home London Stock Exchange, accepted an extremely conservative value as it sold shares to the public for the first time. For some perspective, consider this: although Sophos is nearly five times larger than Rapid7, its market value only slightly exceeds Rapid7’s freshly printed valuation.

Wall Street confidence July 2015