Bluestone Software, one of the last independent application server suppliers, went public Friday at $15 per share, reaching $18.75 per share at the close of trading.
The initial public offering (IPO) amounted to 4 million shares, traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol BLSW. The offering was managed by Deutsche Banc, Alex. Brown, SoundView Technology Group, C.E. Unterberg, Towbin and Legg Mason Wood Walker.
Mount Laurel, N.J.-based Bluestone is the maker of the Sapphire/Web application server, the server software that starts and stops applications in response to browser calls and manages their connections to data sources. Bluestone was also an early entrant into implementing eXtensible Markup Language conversion engines for general-purpose use, launching the Bluestone XML Server at the end of January.
Bluestone's IPO follows on the heels of another independent application server vendor's IPO last month, SilverStream Software of Burlington, Mass. SilverStream shares have illustrated some of the volatility of the market for Web software, launching 3 million shares at $16 each, rising to a high of $42.75 before declining to $31.63 at the closing bell Friday.
The Bluestone and SilverStream IPOs follow on the heels of a string of application server acquisitions in 1998 and 1999: Netscape Communications acquired Kiva Software, Sun Microsystems acquired NetDynamics and BEA Systems acquired WebLogic.
Application servers are now often considered a necessary block of the middle tier of Web software, between the browser desktop and the data and functionality of legacy systems.