TurboLinux to go public in 2000

As Linux IPOs continue to blaze a trail, Asian Linux distributor hints at flotation plans

Can't get enough Linux stock? Cliff Miller, president and CEO of TurboLinux, certainly hopes so.

In a week in which Red Hat's stock price continued to go through the roof and Linux hardware vendor VA Linux prepared for its sure-to-be-hot IPO, TurboLinux began hinting about its plans to go public sometime next year.

TurboLinux is the leading Asian Linux distributor. Its Chinese and Japanese versions lead their respective markets. A Korean version is due soon. At the same time, the company is working hard to improve its market position in North America with its proprietary clustering add-on to Linux.

Miller clearly stated that TurboLinux is heading for an IPO next year, but declined to provide further specifics. Caldera Systems, another Linux distributor, also is expected to go public in 2000.

TurboLinux has inked deals with a number of systems vendors, including Compaq Computer, IBM and Dell Computer The Santa Cruz Operation recently agreed to provide services distribution for TurboLinux. With regard to rumours of TurboLinux being a possible takeover target by SCO or Sun Microsystems, Lonn Johnson, TurboLinux vice president of marketing, jokingly commented that TurboLinux was planning on "buying out Sun and HP in the coming year".

On a more serious note, Johnson said, "We've been approached by all kinds of companies and individuals who are interested in investing in TurboLinux." However, the company has "been going full speed ahead with our own agenda. We haven't had time to consider any potential offers," he added.

In the company's first round of funding, Don Marquardt's VC firm, August Capital, pledged more than $5.5m (£4m) to become lead outside investor in the company. Other investors include Intel and Broadview International, one of the premiere technology global mergers and acquisitions firm.

While working on the IPO, TurboLinux is pursuing its goal of becoming a leading Linux company in the United States. "We're staffing up, developing our product line, building distribution and sales channel, and working on marketing. The IPO will be a natural progression," Miller said.

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