The New Horsemen?

When speaking with venture capitalists about what caused the great IPO market stall of the past year, a commonly cited contributing factor is the fade -out of the boutique investment banks that used to underwrite small- and mid-sized offerings.

The ones most closely associated with tech IPOs prior to the dotcom bust – Robertson Stephens, Hambrecht & Quist, Montgomery Securities and Alex Brown – used to be called the “four horsemen.” Since then, however, they’ve all been folded into larger banks. And the big investment banks (or what remains of them) tend to focus on larger offerings.

New IPO filings by a couple of venture-backed companies, however, may offer some insight into who’s looking to take over the horseman role, should the new offerings market rebound.

Restaurant reservation service OpenTable, which filed for a $40 million IPO this week, has only one of the former “big five” investment banks, Merrill Lynch, among its four underwriters. The other three are Allen & Company, Stifel Nicolas and ThinkEquity.

Medidata Solutions, a provider of clinical research and develop services, filed last week for an offering expected to raise around $86 million. Underwriters for that offering were Citi, Credit Suisse, Jefferies & Company and Needham & Company. Citi and Credit Suisse will be the bookrunning managers, according to the prospectus.