But, the marketplace is allowing start-ups to certainly try.
“I think the IPO window will remain open for some time, particularly for quality companies like LinkedIn and Zynga,” said Ian Sigalow, Partner at Greycroft Partners.
Even in the private sphere, the sense is that the dot com’s of today are different creatures than those the last time around, in the 90s—and, as such, are valued differently.
“The big difference these days is what you're finding is companies with really strong fundamentals,” Steven Boal, CEO of Coupons.com, told me. He said that cash flows, solid business models, and real growth trajectories have made the dot com IPO scene a different picture than it was a decade ago.
With the $8.9 billion LinkedIn IPO on the table, I had to ask him: jealous, much?
“I’m not sure that jealous is the right term,” he said. “I'm happy to be a company that fits the profile of a successful operating business, and growing fast.”
Coupons.com is a private company, and has been for a long time. As such, the company doesn’t disclose earnings— but Boal told me that last year was a record year.
“We issued over $1.2 billion in savings last year. We have the number-one spot in the coupons discount reward category in the US. We have about 65,000 live web sites every day,” he said.
So would a $5 billion, $10 billion, $25 billion valuation be justified, then?
I got a laugh instead of an answer. But, he did say that Coupons.com and "that other coupon site" are committed to using digital technology and practical solutions for users, which makes them very different companies than those of the past: “We're mapping into people's normal daily lives, and not looking to change the way people behave. That’s just a different phenomena that's taking place this time over last time.”
Even so, Sigalow doesn’t see a strict correlation between the IPO market and early stage funding, pointing out that the companies that are going public today were funded as start-ups years ago. Additional funding, he said, won’t come until later on:
“At the later stage there may be additional growth equity investors looking to buy stakes in these companies now that the public markets have substantiated private market valuations for some of these investments.”
Regardless, Rothstein remains optimistic that companies like his stand to gain. A lot.
“This week I had three calls from US Tier 1 Venture Capitalists,” he said. “I am not surprised, and I am taking the calls.”
Follow Nicole @ twitter.com/nicolelapin
Facebook Nicole @ www.facebook.com/NicoleCNBC
Questions? Comments? Email us atNetNet@cnbc.com
Follow NetNet on Twitter @ twitter.com/CNBCnetnet
Facebook us @ www.facebook.com/NetNetCNBC