Testing the IPO Window

The IPO window will be tested this week with six offerings, two of which are venture-backed companies: Broadsoft (BFST), a 1998-era telecomm software company, and Motricity (MOTR), a 2001-era mobile software company.

UPDATE: Broadsoft priced at the bottom of its range, a poor sign.

The last tech IPO, ReachLocal (RLOC), priced below its range and fell below early last week, only to rise back slightly over the offering price. From the first day close, it has dropped quite a bit and is still down (see chart), but a few more days like today and it goes back to positive in the after-market.

The keystone IPO is coming up: Tesla Motors (TSLA), the first serious auto startup since Chrysler in 1925 and the biggest auto IPO since Ford in 1956, should price the week of Jun28. The lead underwriters, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, announced a price range today of $14-16, valuing the company at $1.5B and seeking to raise $167M from the public and another $50M from Toyota. This is an increase from their expectations back in January when they first filed. Unlike Ford, which was profitable very quickly, Tesla has yet to make a profit; yet is highly awaited as an IPO. The increase is a good sign of confidence by the underwriters.

While the tech press is generally positive, we do have the headline Blockbuster or Dud? based on recent green IPOs. A123 (AONE) jumped 50% on its first day but since has fallen to 33% below the IPO price with an aftermarket return of -56%. The Wall Street crowd may be even less kind, saying: “The car business is a fairly weak business, and there’s lots of room for Tesla to run out of juice before getting plugged on.”

After Tesla, ZipCar intends to IPO, followed by GM re-IPOing after its LBO by the US Govt. The Tesla and Zip IPOs may be coming out a bit prematurely for the market to be ready for high-burn unprofitable ventures which lack the scale of competitors. Still, they both have enough sizzle to make up for the lack of beef.

Tesla will test the IPO appetite and likely determine whether it remans open or shuts down for the rest of the year.

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About Duncan Davidson 228 Articles

Affiliation: NetService Ventures

Duncan is an advisor to NetService Ventures, where he focuses on digital media and the mobile Internet.

Previously he was at four start-ups: Xumii, a mobile social service based on a Social Addressbook; SkyPilot Networks, the performance leader of wireless mesh systems for last-mile access, where he was the founding CEO; Covad Communications (Amex: DVW, $9B market cap at the peak), the leading independent DSL access provider, where he was the founding Chairman; InterTrust Technologies ($9B market cap at the peak), the pioneer in digital rights management technologies, now owned by Sony and Philips, where he was SVP Business Development and the pitchman for the IPO.

Before these ventures, Duncan was a partner at Cambridge Venture Partners, an early-stage venture firm, and managing partner of Gemini McKenna, a joint venture between Regis McKenna's marketing firm and Gemini Consulting, the global management consulting arm of Cap Gemini.

He serves on the board or is an adviser to Aggregate Knowledge (content discovery), Livescribe (digital pen), AllVoices (citizen journalism), Xumii (mobile social addressbook), Verismo (Internet settop box), and Widevine (DRM for IPTV).

Visit: Duncan Davidson's Blogs

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