DocuSign closes up 38% and Smartsheet 30% in their debuts on Nasdaq and NYSE

It was a big day for enterprise tech IPOs, which have been on a roll in 2018. Today, not one but two enterprise tech companies, DocuSign and Smartsheet, saw their share prices pop as they made their debuts on to the public markets, trends that continued throughout the day.

At the close of the markets New York time, DocuSign closed at $39.96, up nearly 38 percent from its IPO price of $29 and giving the company a market cap of $6 billion. Smartsheet closed at $19.50, up 30 percent from its initial price of $15 and giving it a market cap of $1.9 billion.

Smartsheet was first out of the gates. Trading on NYSE under the ticker SMAR, the company clocked an opening price of $18.40. This represented a pop of 22.7 percent on its IPO pricing of $15 yesterday evening — itself a higher figure than the expected range of $12-$14. Smartsheet, whose primary product is a workplace collaboration and project management platform (it competes with the likes of Basecamp, Wrike and Asana), raised $150 million in its IPO and is currently trading around $18.30/share. Its price went as high as $19.70 in trading today and never dipped below $18.06.

Later in the day, DocuSign — which facilitates e-signatures and other features to speed up contractural negotiations online, competing against the likes of AdobeSign and HelloSign — started to trade, and it saw an even bigger pop. Trading on Nasdaq under DOCU, the stock opened at $37.75, which worked out to a jump of 30 percent on its IPO price last night of $29. Like Smartsheet, DocuSign had priced its IPO higher than the expected range of $26-$28, raising $629 million in the process. In all, it went as high as $40.89 in trading today.

In the case of both companies, they are coming to the market with net losses on their balance sheets, but evidence of strong revenue growth. And in a period that seems to be a generally strong market for IPOs at the moment, combined with the generally positive climate for cloud-based enterprise services (with both Microsoft and Amazon crediting their cloud businesses for their own strong earnings), that rising tide appears to be lifting these two boats.

Rohit Kulkarni, MD and head of research at brokerage firm SharesPost notes that this bodes very well for more IPOs this year of so-called “unicorns” — startups valued at more than $1 billion that might have in past years been very strong candidates for IPOs, but have in more recent years been more likely to sit an raise privately, averting potentially less receptive public markets and taking advantage of the vast amounts of funding available via VC, private equity houses and other private channels.

But he believes that generally we’re now seeing a swing to more sober and less exuberant IPOs. “This doesn’t mean companies will go no faster to an IPO now,” he added. “They will still have a long gestation of seven to 10 years, and, when they do go public, they will be stronger and more mature, with a clear pathway to profitability, which will help them thrive.”

In terms of trends, the proliferation of enterprise cloud companies that we’ve seen in the world of startups is going to translate into yet more enterprise cloud IPOs. “We expect more enterprise cloud companies to public this year,” he said. “Trends in the past 16 months have been lopsided, with Cloud and Enterprise software companies accounting for 75% of public unicorns. Clearly, these companies are the backbone of the private tech growth asset category.”

DocuSign underscores that trend. The company reported $518.5 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending in 2018 in its IPO filings, up from $381.5 million last year and $250.5 million in 2016. Losses were $52.3 million, but that figure was halved over 2017, when it posted a net loss of $115.4 million. DocuSign’s customers include T-Mobile, Salesforce, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

Smartsheet, meanwhile, reported a strong 3.6 million users in its IPO filings, with business customers including Cisco and Starbucks. The company brought in $111.3 million in revenue for its fiscal 2018 year, but as with many SaaS companies, it’s going public with a loss. Specifically in 2018 it reported a loss of $49.1 million for 2018, up from a net loss of $15.2 million and $14.3 million in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

And as for those highly capitalised startups who are staying private for now, their valuations continue to ratchet up, he added. “This year, we have tracked just one down-round IPO, whereas there were eight such down-round IPOs in 2017,” said Kulkarni. “Plus, more than 50% of the VC-backed companies going public this year have raised their IPO pricing range at least once. Clearly, a sign of healthy appetite for such companies among public investors.”

Other strong enterprise tech public offerings this year have included Dropbox, Zscaler, Cardlytics, Zuora and Pivotal. All of them closed above their opening prices, in what is shaping up to be a huge year for tech IPOs overall.

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