Paul Kedrosky writing in "Infectious Greed" speculates that we might get an IPO boom in 2010 and that this could kick-off a longer tech IPO boom.
We will know it when a suprise IPO is successful, as in the Netscape IPO in the late 1990s.
And what is a Netscape moment? It’s not just a moonshot IPO from a fast-growing company with all the right moves. It’s also a company that represents a cohort of IPO-able fast-growers, any one of which bankers can track down and take public once the initial companies are successfully public. “Get me another one of those!”, is what investors (and bank executives) will say to investment bankers after the first company in the cohort goes public. And bankers can be criticized for many things, but being slow to follow profitable orders is not one of them.
He points to companies such as Zynga, Facebook, and Twitter as possible new 'Netscapes' that could trigger more IPOs.
I don't see Facebook and Twitter as potential 'Netscapes' because there aren't too many like them to feed an IPO pipeline. But Zynga, which specializes in social gaming, or Yelp in local advertising sales, might seed a boom because they represent a whole raft of similar companies.
However, while 2010 will likely see an increase in IPOs I don't see it being a watershed year because of these factors:
- We still haven't had the second market correction that we need. After the Great Crash, it was the second correction that cleared out the deadwood and that eventually led the long climb back to stock market gains.
- Zynga and many other online companies have revenues that are based on a lot of scammy ads that are not long lasting revenue streams. The ad revenues will be shut down, or replaced by other scammy ad revenues in a constant but diminishing circle of revenues. This is not a good foundation for any business hence the smart investors (VCs) are looking to offload to the least informed investors — the public. This will poison the IPO pipeline and it will take time to recover.
Maybe then we can get a real tech IPO boom.