An initial public offering is usually a major event in any young company's life, giving it access to a huge capital pool, and paving the way for the founder's exit.
But as cloud data storage company Box goes, so goes the rest of the fundraising world. Box walked to the edge of an IPO with the filing of its S-1 papers in March. At the time, it hoped to raise $250 million from its offering. But plans to rush the company into the arms of the public soon cooled as the air has come out of technology stocks, and tech IPOs have ceased to peform as investors had hoped.
Now comes the news (from undisclosed sources) that Box--which is helmed by Aaron Levie, Inc. magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year--is about to close a new round of venture capital funding. That infusion would value the company at approximiately $1.2 billion.
"If you look at the capital markets, they are flooded with capital, and as the economy heats up more and more [business owners] are finding capital," without going public, says Leo Kelly, partner and chief executive of financial advisory HighTower’s Kelly Wealth Management, of Baltimore. Kelly's clietele is primarily high net worth and ultra high networth entrpreneurs. He manages more than $1 billion in assets.
In other words, an IPO is not the be all, end all. As Kelly says, it's just one possible fundraising event along the way. Microsoft, for example, went public at a valuation of $500 million in 1986, Kelly says. Today, its worth closer to $300 billion. A public offering was the best value for the company at the time.
Venture capital and and private equity money are probably better deals now for young tech companies like Box at the moment, espeically with $1 trillion in uncommitted capital, according to the 2014 Bain & Company Global Private Equity report, the highest in a decade.
"There's private equity, venture capital, angel funding, and a competitive business can look at the bank financing market to raise mezzanine financing capital," Kelly says.
So Box's IPO ambitions may be iced for the time being, but it still has plenty of juice.