Fluidigm: In For a Bloodbath?

Poor Lehman. Its biotech startup Fluidigm in San Francisco is slated to go public tomorrow in what may be the most inauspiciously timed debut ever.  Though Fluidigm might become just the fourth venture-backed company to go public this year, its timing could only be lousier had it been slated to go public on Monday. 

The company — which has raised nearly $200 million since its 1999 founding, including from Lehman Brothers Healthcare Venture Capital, Alloy Ventures, and a string of other firms — could’ve pulled the offering of course, but it hasn’t. Apparently, it’s proceeding with its plans to offer 5.3 million shares at $14 to $16.

Fluidigm’s decision is a surprising one, to say the least. Web-hosting company Rackspace, the only venture-backed company to go public this quarter, had profits of nearly $18 million last year on revenue of $362 million, and its shares not only fell flat when it debuted in early August but they’ve since dropped 10 percent. Fluidigm, which produces tiny rubber circuits used in biological research, meanwhile reported a net loss of $25.5 million last year, on revenue of just $7.3 million.

Some will surely view the company’s determination to come out during one of Wall Street’s darkest weeks as gutsy. Right now, it looks suicidal. Guess we’ll see what happens soon enough.