Business Management

Coupa, Nutanix, Okta and Twilio test 2016 IPO waters

In the strange bubble of Wall Street and other financial communities, technology is all too often loudly loved and then dropped like a scalding brick. In the go-go years, technology stocks are revered: think of IBM and HP in the 1970s; Apple in the 1980s; Microsoft, Intel and Dell in the 1990s; or Apple (again), Google, Salesforce.com and the other internet and cloud bulls in the last decade and a half. When the going is good everybody hails technology as the ultimate source of competitive differentiation and predicts a long boom. Then, at the top of these companies’ Icarus flights, there is a necessary descent, but instead of acknowledging their role in pumping firms beyond their natural altitude, stock watchers say that “tech is dreck” and move on.

It’s a circular business and the wheel is still turning. After an initial feeding frenzy on Alibaba’s IPO last year, sentiment turned on some tech companies with datacentre innovators like Nimble Storage and Pure Storage in particular facing the wrath of investors and losing chunks of value. Still, some bellwether stocks like Microsoft, Google and Apple retained their strength and Australia-founded business collaboration software company Atlassian had a successful late-year debut, so what of 2016?

Some tests will come early because, as most of us were getting stuck into the festive season’s eggnog and sausage rolls, a quartet of business tech companies reportedly made the initial steps towards floating. Nutanix, a maker of hyper-convergence (or multipurpose) datacentre appliances, was one; Twilio, a developer that helps firms add communications tools via APIs was another; Coupa, a cloud-based spend management firm is the third; and Okta, a leader in single sign-on and identity management is the last.

(Both Coupa and Okta featured on IDG Connect’s 20 Red-Hot, Pre-IPO Companies in 2015 tech list; Nutanix featured in the 2014 version.)

In their own fields, all these companies are pioneers and represent something like the crème de la crème. They are also all ‘unicorns’ – that is, firms currently seen as being ‘worth’ over $1bn each. But will their IPOs float the boats of investors? Given the mixed picture of last year that’s far from a given and the fluctuating valuations ascribed even to pre-IPO companies sitting on piles of VC and other funding indicates a market in flux.

In the imminent IDG Connect Red-Hot Pre-IPO 2016 list we’ll try to provide a clear-eyed view of what’s going on but what’s important to recognise is that, whatever the vagaries of the stock markets and the health of IPO valuations, these companies will continue to be necessary in order for firms to automate and innovate. Whatever the share price says, the true value remains.


Also read:

20 Red-Hot Pre-IPO Companies in 2014 B2B Tech

20 Red-Hot Pre-IPO Companies in 2015 B2B Tech

Coupa seeks enterprise spending coup

Is Nutanix the new Sun?

Pure leads charge of Flash-y upstarts

Nutanix gains on demand for Google-like datacentres

Okta CEO offers clod cover for firms signing on


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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