Software maker Motive takes second shot at IPO

Help desk software company will join the ranks of late bloomers, as it tries to raise $55 million.

Motive, which develops support and help desk software for large computer companies, is expected to hold an initial public offering next week--three years after its first attempt.

The company, based in Austin, Texas, specializes in software designed to reduce the time it takes to fix computer glitches. Various applications allow consumers to diagnose their own computer problems, for instance, or help phone support technicians to resolve issues more rapidly.

Current customers include 3Com, Hewlett-Packard, Time Warner Cable, BellSouth and Veritas Software. Because of the high costs of help desks, the market for automated service software is anticipated to grow from an estimated $1.7 billion in 2004 to approximately $3.5 billion in 2007, according to research firm IDC.

Although Motive's software has been used on some 30 million devices by the company's estimate, it is largely anonymous because its brand is subsumed by those of its customers. In 1999, both Dell and Compaq Computer came out with branded self-help systems based on Motive's software. The main difference was that the cartoon mascot for Dell's service had a beard.

Motive will try to raise $55 million through selling 5 million shares at an opening price of $11 to $13, according to the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The IPO is expected to take place next week, according to IPO Home.

Motive's revenue grew from $58 million in 2002 to $92 million in 2003, an acceleration due in part to the acquisition of BroadJump, according to the SEC filing.

The company was founded in 1997 by CEO Scott Harmon, a former Tivoli Systems executive, and Scott Abel, who worked at now-defunct computer companies NeXT and Apollo Computer. Board members include Tom Meredith, a former chief financial officer at Dell, and Mike Maples, a former executive vice president at Microsoft.

If the company goes public, it will join the ranks of other late bloomers like Tessera Technologies that had planned to go public in 2000 and 2001 but found their plans thwarted by the stock market collapse. Motive scotched an earlier IPO in March 2001.

Although the IPO market is not nearly as active as it was back in the heady days of the late 1990s, investors have clearly regained a taste for new technologies. Atheros, SiRF Technology and other companies have seen their stocks rise significantly on the first day of trading. Google in April filed to go public, in one of the most anticipated stock offerings since the technology bubble burst.