The most exciting news on the IPO front lately has come not just from the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, but also from the database of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
February and March have seen a flurry of filings from high-profile venture-backed companies looking to raise capital through public offerings. The list includes music streaming site Pandora Media, vacation rental service HomeAway, algae-derived biofuel producer Solazyme and memory technology provider Fusion-io.
All told, at least 12 venture-backed companies filed to go public between the beginning of February and St. Patrick’s Day. Over the same period, 10 VC-backed companies (including nine in February) made it to market, raising $722 million, according to Thomson Reuters, marking an improvement over the same period a year ago, when five companies went public, raising $588 million.
“With U.S. economic growth muted, investors are looking to the IPO market for secular growth stories,” wrote analysts at Renaissance Capital in a recent report, noting that companies in the tech and communications sectors are seeing the strongest demand. Meanwhile, household-name companies, such as Skype and LinkedIn, have already filed, and as of mid-March there’s also talk that Groupon, Zynga Game Network and Facebook are gearing up to file their respective IPOs.
Of those that have gone public in recent weeks, several have already posted outsized returns.
The largest recent offering came from CornerstoneOnDemand, which raised $136.5 million in its March 17 debut. Shares of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which develops Web-based learning and talent management software, jumped nearly 47% in first-day trading on Nasdaq after pricing above the anticipated range. Venture shareholders include Bessemer Venture Partners (20.4% pre-IPO stake), Meritech Capital (15%) and Bay Partners (13.5%).
Cornerstone was the only VC-funded offering in the first three trading weeks of March. That was a sharp contrast to the first half of February, which saw a flurry of venture-backed IPOs, including four pharma deals: Pacira Pharmaceuticals, a developer of injectable treatments; BG Medicine, a diagnostics company; Endocyte, a developer of cancer therapies; and AcelRX, a developer of pain drugs. Other offerings included Gevo, a biofuels developer; Fluidigm, a provider of microfluidics technology for life science research; Epocrates, provider of handheld computing devices for physicians; NeoPhotonics, a maker of integrated circuits; and Zuoan Fashion, a China-based men’s clothing manufacturer.
Though venture-backed offering activity was mostly muted in March, it’s reasonable to infer from new filings that spring and summer promise more action ahead. A number of companies filed in February and March for sizeable offerings, including planned IPOs from the following:
Solazyme. The South San Francisco-based company, which develops algae-based fuels and other products, is looking to raise $100 million. Shareholders include The Roda Group (29.8% stake), Braemar Energy Ventures (10.7%), Fiddler Group (7.9%) and Lightspeed Venture Partners (6%). Solazyme previously raised $131 million in venture funding, according to Thomson Reuters.
Cortina Systems. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, which develops semiconductors for communications applications, filed to raise $100 million. Shareholders include Intel (11.9%), Morgenthaler Partners (10.1%), Canaan Partners (8.3%), Institutional Venture Partners (8.2%), DCM (6%), El Dorado Ventures(5.8%) and Kodiak Venture Partners (5.3%).
HomeAway. The Austin-based vacation rental network is looking to raise $230 million. Shareholders include Austin Ventures (24.4%), Redpoint Ventures (19.4%), Technology Crossover Ventures (15.2%), Institutional Venture Partners (8.9%), and Tiger Global Management (6.1%).
Pandora Media. The Oakland, Calif.-based music streaming site Shareholders include Crosslink Capital (23%), Walden Venture Capital(18.6%), Greylock Partners (14.13%), Labrador Ventures (8.5%), Hearst Corp. (5.75%) and GGV Capital (5.2%).
Fusion-io. The Salt Lake City-based provider of memory technology is looking to raise $150 million. Shareholders include New Enterprise Associates (38.8%) and Lightspeed Venture Partners (13%).
The Active Network. The San Diego-based company, which runs a system for organizing and collecting fees for teams and other group activities, is looking to raise $150 million. Shareholders include ESPN (22.4%), Canaan Partners (16.1%), Elicia Acquisition Corp. (10.7%) and ABS Ventures(9.6%).
Newgistics: The Austin-based provider of freight transit logistics technology is looking to raise $86 million. Austin Ventures owns the largest stake, followed by AV Labs and StarVest Partners.
Advanced Biohealing. The Westport, Conn.-based regenerative medicine company previously raised $40 million in venture funding, according to Thomson Reuters. Shareholders include Canaan Partners (40.7%), Safeguard Scientifics(28.1%) and Wheatley Partners (14.7%).
Three venture-backed companies based in China also filed.
NetQin Mobile. The Beijing-based provider of mobile Internet software is looking to raise $100 million. Sharehohders include RPL Holdings (30.5%), GSR Ventures (22.6%), Ceyuan Ventures (16.3%) and Sequoia Capital(9.7%).
Qihoo. The Beijing-based company, which provides a popular browser, as well as Web and mobile services, is looking to raise $200 million. Shareholders include Highland Capital Partners (17.7%), Sequoia Capital (9.5%), Trustbridge Partners(5.2%) and Redpoint Ventures (5%).
Global Market Group. The Guangzhou, China-based provider of business-to-business e-commerce services is looking to raise $132 million. Shareholders include JAFCO Asia Technology Fund (8.5%).