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GOING PUBLIC

Tech IPOs to Watch

Who says the tech IPO market is broken? Here's a look at a several companies that may be gearing up to go public soon.
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Think the market for tech IPOs is broken? 

Not so fast. In the second quarter of 2013, tech IPOs represented about a quarter of all IPOs--and plenty of analysts are saying that we're going to start seeing a lot more tech companies (especially enterprise software) go public in the next several months driven, in part, by a backlog generated in a sluggish 2012. 

So, who's next? 

Well, rumors are swirling about Zulily, the daily deal site for moms and kids with about 10 million subscribers and 700 employees. This week, Reuters reported that the company hired Goldman Sachs, Citigroup's investment bank, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, potentially gearing up for an IPO. 

Another e-commerce retailer that seems destined for an IPO is Gilt. The New York City start-up, founded in 2007, announced last year it was keeping a close eye on the public markets. "It's important to show the business is profitable," Andy Page, the company's former president told Reuters last year. "We're trying to address that so we have the opportunity to go public. The objective is to work towards that in 2013." Last month, Michelle Peluso, the company's CEO, told AllThings D, "I believe we're a strong public-company target, and it's our likely path, but we're not in rush. It's a very dynamic conversation." 

The company, which started out primarily as a flash-sales site for high-end women's fashion, has diversified its product offerings over the past few years to include houseware items and travel packages. The company has also raised north of $200 million from VCs, making an IPO an attractive outcome for its earliest investors. 

Another e-commerce retailer to watch out for is Wayfair, the Boston-based furniture reseller founded in 2002. The company has about 1,200 employees and has quietly taken on more than $200 million in venture funding. That, in itself, doesn't necessarily mean it's destined for an IPO. But considering the company ended 2012 with about $600 million in sales, its financials (high sales, relatively low overhead, and decent margins) would likely perform well in the public markets. That said--don't hold your breath.

"If you aren't in a rush and you don't need liquidity for your investors, then you look at it and wonder why you should go public when you still don't have much brand awareness and think the story could be so much better in another year or two," the company's CEO, Niraj Shah, told Fortune.

Then, of course, there's Box, the online file sharing and cloud data management company for enterprise. Founded in 2005, the company has exploded in growth, taken on about $300 million in VC, and collected more than 150,000 customers with more than 15 million end-users. Speaking with PCWorld, Levie speculated that "I wouldn't expect us to go public this year [2013], but it’s something we're certainly thinking about and talking about over the next couple of years."

It's worth pointing out that Box's decision to go public may be tied to one of its biggest competitor's decisions to go public--Dropbox. In February, Quartz reported that Dropbox was in talks with banks on plans for an IPO, though nothing official about an IPO has been released by the company. Aaron Levie, for his part, has said that his competitor's choice to go public wouldn't affect his company's plans, but it's hard to imagine that it hasn't crossed his mind.

There's also one more dark-horse prediction I'll throw out there for a late 2013 or early 2014 IPO: Square

A Silicon Valley darling, Square has raised nearly $350 million since its founding in 2009, building a massive empire of payments that now process some $6 billion every year. And, in June, Dorsey hired former Goldman Sachs banker Sarah Friar to be the company's chief financial officer, a move that may indicate the company is readying itself for an IPO. 




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