That popping sound you hear coming from Silicon Valley? It's not the tech bubble, for a change, but a big tech company getting a warm welcome from Wall Street in its public market debut.
In a development sure to please venture capitalists, shares of Twilio, the maker of in-app communications software, opened today at 60 percent above its IPO price, which itself was above the range the startup had stated in filings.
"We met a great set of investors and felt they really understood the power of our platform. We're building a business and a stock for the long term and we have an enormous opportunity in front of us that we are determined to maximize. We're really looking forward to the next decade and beyond as a public company," says CEO Jeff Lawson.
The startup proposed an IPO price in the $12-14 in its IPO prospectus last week, then on Thursday priced its IPO at $15, according to CNBC. The stock opened at $23.99, then rose to $24.71.
"It's a good start but it's had a big jump, so it's going to have to really justify that price now over time," says Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital and manager of its IPO-focused exchange-traded funds. Smith adds, "I would call this day a success for Twilio."
It's more than that. It's an auspicious day for the broader tech industry and its clogged late-stage pipeline. Twilio's IPO is one of a relatively small number occurring in 2016. From January to May, there were 31 initial public offerings, according to Barron's. Over the same period the prior year, there were 69, and in 2014 that same five-month period saw 115 IPOs.
The total number of IPOs this year now stands at 40, with shares of the 39 that preceded Twilio trading at 16.3 percent above their IPO level, according to Smith. That means that while issuers are shy of taking private companies to market, investors are doing well and venture capitalists should be feeling confident about there being a path to IPO for startups, she says.
"A successful Twilio IPO will be another data point substantiating a recovering IPO market," Smith told Inc. last week. "More importantly, a successful Twilio IPO will bring a big sigh of relief to the Silicon Valley venture capital community."
But all that confidence doesn't mean Twilio is necessarily clear of the kind of scenario that befell Square, the tech industry's last IPO. Like Twilio, Square offered its shares at a healthy discount to its peers when it made its initial public offering last year, yet the company's shares have fallen below IPO levels.
Twilio "did it right, they priced at a good discount below their peers," says Smith, referring to other fast-growing software as a service companies, which she notes have already faced valuation contractions. "They did what they had to do."
Beyond that, performance is largely up to market forces, and as it stands those appear to be on a rebound, says Smith.
If you choose to take an optimistic view of the company's performance, Twilio's performance today could be indicative of a continuing rebound in the IPO market. Earnst & Young Americas IPO markets leader Jackie Kelley has predicted the number of IPOs will surge in 2017.
U.S. markets are "building a really robust pipeline next year, is what's happening," she told Inc. recently, predicting IPO activity will return to levels comparable to 2014 next year.