Back in the late 1990s companies filed for IPOs even though they had modest revenues and were losing money. Due to the tulip mentality of the time investors suspended disbelief and bought in anyway, giving way to the crash of 2001. A couple of years after that bankers were telling me that in order to have an IPO you would need “at least a couple of years of solid trading profits”, quarterly revenues of at least $25 million and preferably more, as well as strong growth. Those heady days of the late 1990s were a freak occurrence, like the South Sea Bubble. Certainly technology IPOs dried up almost entirely.
With the recent gloom on Wall Street I was therefore surprised to see Initiate Systems filing for an IPO. They are growing quite rapidly but not only have never made a cent of profit, but their losses appear to be, if anything, widening slightly at about a third of their revenues. Throw in an admitted financial misstatement and does this start to feel to you like the late 1990s again? No doubt Initiate is expertly and expensively advised, but this will certainly be one to watch, as if the IPO goes ahead and well then it will change perceptions of exit strategies for high tech companies.