"I don't think there's a stampede and I don't think there should be a stampede," said Kevin Landis, chief investment officer of Firsthand Capital Management, which splits its $250 million under management between public stocks and start-up investments. "There's a decent number of candidates."
Most of the likely IPOs aren't household names. After all, why would Uber or Airbnb make the leap? They have seemingly unlimited access to private capital at sky-high valuations and can avoid the pressure of quarterly results. Dating service Match Group was the last consumer internet IPO, and that was back in November 2015.
There might be one pretty large exception, though: Snap. The parent of Snapchat could debut as early as March in a deal valuing the social media company at $25 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Much of the IPO pipeline consists of enterprise-focused businesses more along the lines of Nutanix, which sells data center technology, and Coupa, a provider of software that helps clients track their expenses and invoices in the cloud. For companies that sell to large enterprises, having publicly available financials is critical to winning deals from multinational corporations that need to know that their vendors are on solid footing.
A couple of names on investors' near-term radars are Okta, a developer of identity management and security software, and AppDynamics, which sells technology to help companies monitor the performance of their applications. Both have reportedly hired banks to prepare for IPOs.
MuleSoft, a software developer that delayed an offering last year in favor of more private money, is looking to debut as early as the first quarter, according to sources familiar with the company who asked not to be named because the plans are confidential.
"For enterprise software and systems companies, there's more pressure beyond financing and liquidity reasons," said Jerry Chen an investor in business technology start-ups at venture firm Greylock Partners. "You see a bunch that are reaching that level of maturity."