This is not exactly a bumper-crop year for IPOs, let alone hugely successful IPOs.

Year-to-date, 36 companies have gone public, with deals on average priced twelve percent below the midpoint of proposed ranges, according to Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital.

That puts an extra burden of significance on the planned offering by cloud communications platform Twilio. It's the first tech IPO out of California since Square IPO'd, notes Smith. It's only the second venture capital-backed tech company to file for IPO this year, reports Bloomberg; in contrast, by this time last year, six VC-backed tech startups had gone public.

The terms of Twilio's IPO indicate it could buck some of the more worrisome trends in 2016 IPOs. The company plans to sell shares at between $12 and $14, which Fortune calculates would place Twilio at a public market capitalization of around $1.07 billion, which is higher than its last private market valuation.

Founded in 2008, Twilio had reportedly raised a total of more than $240 million by last summer and was widely reported to have broken a private valuation of $1 billion last year. However, Smith disputes the startup's status as a unicorn. "By our calculations the last round was about $950 million in May-July 2015," she says.

However the Twilio IPO goes, it's going to matter in the startup world.

"A successful Twilio IPO will be another data point substantiating a recovering IPO market," says Smith.  "More importantly, a successful Twilio IPO will bring a big sigh of relief to the Silicon Valley venture capital community."

She says that while IPOs have come in at lower valuations, overall IPO investors have done well, "with the average return of 21 percent from the IPO price on the 36 deals year to date."  Renaissance Capital's Exchange Traded Funds, comprising 64 recent IPOs, "has been outperforming the S&P 500 since mid February," she adds.

Twilio is not profitable, although it's headed in that direction, notes Zachary Seward of Quartz. "Twilio, launched in 2008, has never turned a profit. But its losses have narrowed, and revenue grew to $166.9 million in 2015. Revenue last quarter was up 78 percent from a year ago, while the net loss shrank by 25 percent," he writes.

Smith says the company is overall poised to perform well. "The good news is that the company is growing rapidly and has just turned positive operating cash flow--a perfect formula for the current IPO market," she says.

Twilio declined to comment for this story, citing Securities and Exchange Commission quiet period restrictions.

Published on: Jun 13, 2016