The 2020 calendar year will long be remembered as an annus horribilis for most, except for a handful of technology companies who reaped the rewards of a global shift to remote work with successful initial public offerings (IPOs).
US companies alone raised a record $435 billion in stock sales in 2020, with more than a quarter of that figure coming from IPOs — far outstripping 2014’s mark of $279 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The vast majority of those new listings defined themselves as technology companies.
Cloud-based software firms like Zoom, Snowflake, Asana, Airbnb and Palantir all performed particularly well, and continue to see their stock price flourish as remote work and e-commerce continue to be the norm for many into 2021.
The question now is whether this trend will continue through the year. There are a host of companies eying an early debut in 2021 to take advantage of favorable conditions. But, as with all market debuts, timing will be everything, with a number of industry analysts increasingly warning of a bubble.
Here are the biggest technology IPOs of the year so far.
Utah-based software company Qualtrics went public on Jan. 28, just two years after its $8 billion acquisition by German software giant SAP on the eve of its first planned IPO in 2018.
Qualtrics initially priced its IPO at $30 per share, which was the top end of its expected range, before popping a massive 52% on its Nasdaq debut. It closed at $45.50 a share, valuing the firm at $27.3 billion.
Founded by brothers Ryan and Jared Smith alongside their father and fourth co-founder Stuart Orgill, Qualtrics started life as an online survey software provider before growing into a platform for large companies like Disney, BMW and Adidas to collect a variety of “experience data” from employees and customers.
Qualtrics fared pretty well as part of the SAP family, growing revenue 30% in the first three quarters of 2020 to $550 million. It did continue to operate at a loss of $244 million however, with $218 million of stock-based compensation skewing that number pretty dramatically.
SAP will maintain majority ownership of the vendor post-IPO, and private equity firm Silver Lake now owns a little over 4% of the stock. Ryan Smith has somewhat stepped away from the day-to-day running of Qualtrics since taking majority ownership of the NBA team the Utah Jazz last year.
Still to list
Other companies rumored to be lining up a 2021 IPO include Instacart, ZipRecruiter, Coursera, Bumble, Squarespace, and Coinbase.