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2 Kinds of Start-ups That Get More Valuable Post-IPO
 

A new analysis by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm identifies two tech business models that tend to stay strong.

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Not all new businesses are created equal--especially in high tech.

Silicon Valley VC Emergence Capital Partners recently looked at what happened to tech companies' valuations after going public. The conclusion? The winners--meaning those that kept or increased their valuation--fell into two camps: companies with a B2B focus and companies that provide software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Let's take a look at the data:

post-ipo valuation graph

More companies in the B2B space seem to hit higher market cap growth than the consumer-focused ones. But the relationship between the distributions of the blue and red lines is more complex. The actual numbers in this Emergence Capital table shows things a little more clearly.

post-ipo valuation chart

Keep in mind this is, by necessity, a small sample: 103 IPOs between 2004 and 2010 with at least one year of public data. Still, it does show some interesting patterns.

More B2B than B2C companies had lower post-IPO valuation. However, when you look at the percentages, only 27% of the B2B firms dropped in value, versus 33% of the B2C ones.

About 53% of the B2B companies bettered their valuation. Only 39% of the B2C managed to do the same.

Emergence Capital's explanation makes sense: Consumers are fickle customers and don't actually need what they get from many tech companies. That means they are more capable of walking away, because the services are of a lower importance. Business customers, on the other hand, are more reluctant to abandon a vendor because any change can have significant costs.

But there's a second dynamic, as well, that is intriguing--the difference between SaaS companies and more traditional hardware or software firms. Only one out of 30 SaaS companies lost value a year or more after going public. More than 83% increased in value.

For traditional hardware and software deployment, one in 15 lost value; 67% increased in value. However, for those that increased in value, the chances were far higher that a company could move beyond a 25% increase in valuation, a level that seemed to be a limit for many of the SaaS companies.

It wouldn't make sense to use information like this as the sole determinant of what type of tech business to build. But if you're torn between several ideas that seem otherwise equal, you might consider a B2B SaaS business model as somewhat more likely to increase in value.

Last updated: Aug 10, 2012

ERIK SHERMAN's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.
@ErikSherman




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