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Facebook was the initial public offering that people everywhere anticipated (and then lamented), but what really defined 2012 was a series of marvelous, high-profile, public debuts by enterprise software makers.
VentureBeat put together the following list of the top 10 technology initial public offerings in 2012, based on how much money each one raised, using data from the National Venture Capital Association.
You’ll notice that the gap between the No. 1 IPO — Facebook — and everyone else is huge.
But look beyond the dollars raised, and what you’ll find is that eight out of the 10 companies on the list make software and services for other businesses. Several of them proved to be Wall Street heroes, rescuing a technology IPO market that flatlined when Facebook tanked.
1. Facebook: $16 billion
Eight years after creating Facebook from his Harvard dorm, Mark Zuckerberg took his social networking company public in what became the largest technology IPO in U.S. history.
Facebook set a $38 IPO price and raised $16 billion through a May 18 offering that valued the eight-year-old social network at $104 billion. Zuckerberg rang the bell remotely from Facebook’s Menlo Park campus. Then reality set it in.
Nasdaq botched the social network’s debut so badly that it became a banker’s worst nightmare. The exchange has since offered $62 million to pay for its mistakes. Investors, especially those that missed their chance to flip shares in the no-pop IPO, quickly soured on the overvalued company. By August, shares were selling for more than half off, though they’ve regained some of those losses since the summer.
Further proving that bigger is not always better, Facebook still faces consolidated class action lawsuits for allegedly disclosing material information about financials to privileged insiders, but not to the public.
2. Workday: $732.55 million
Cloud software company Workday showed us what a successful initial public offering could like with a stellar opening on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 12. The seven-year-old company sold 22.75 million shares, plus 3.4 million more through over-allotment options, to bring in $732.55 million.
Workday’s short stint on the public market has been a bit of a roller coaster. The human resources software-marker priced its shares at $28 for trading and experienced a 72 percent pop in its first-day trading. Better still, it’s currently on an upward climb and is trading in the mid $50’s. Not too bad for just two months of work.
3. Splunk: $263.93 million
Splunk is currently in a small slump, but when the enterprise data software company, which helps businesses with big data needs, went public on April 19, it showed the world that Wall Street was shifting its sights away from consumer companies to enterprise firms.
Splunk priced its shares at $17 and sold 15.525 million of them for a healthy $264 million raise. It experienced an astonishing 108.7 percent jump before closing at $35.48 for the day. Founded in 2004, Splunk was the first true big data company to go public.
4. Palo Alto Networks: $260.40 million
Computer security company Palo Alto Networks seemed insulated from the tech stock drama of 2012 when it went public on July 20. The company, which priced its 6.2 million shares for sale higher than expected at $42 a piece, managed to close its opening day with a 27 percent gain, something that was quite remarkable in the aftermath of Facebook’s bungled debut. In fact, Palo Alto Networks was one of the first technology companies to brave the market after Facebook had scared investors and companies away.
Palo Alto Network’s market reception warmed even more with time and shares climbed as high as $72. Then in September, the security provider disappointed Wall Street with a fourth quarter loss and investors started moving away from its firewalls of promised safety. Now, it’s currently hovering closer to its day one closing price of $53.13.
5. ServiceNow: $241.16 million
Less than two weeks before Palo Alto Network’s coming out party, cloud computing and IT management company ServiceNow made its debut with the biggest IPO pop since Facebook cast its dark shadow on going public.
ServiceNow priced at $18 and sold nearly 13.4 million shares, when accounting for overallotment shares, for an impressive $241.16 million take. The company, which maintains the super-cool “NOW” ticker symbol, closed at $24.60, up 37 percent for the day. Since its July 9 unveiling, ServiceNow has remained one cool cucumber, steadily increasing its value from $2.17 billion to $4 billion.
With the market-normalizing offering, ServiceNow helped pave the way for the bigger and better enterprise tech IPOs that came later in the year.