Amazon was a looming factor in the best and worst tech IPOs of 2017

  • Roku and Stitch Fix have generated big returns for investors despite the threat of Amazon.
  • Of the eight enterprise software and cloud companies to IPO this year, four cite Amazon or AWS as a competitor.
  • Blue Apron was the worst performer in the group.
MongoDB IPO at the Nasdaq October 19, 2017.
Source: Nasdaq
MongoDB IPO at the Nasdaq October 19, 2017.

Amazon may be on an unstoppable tear, but this year's tech IPOs are proving that the little guy can still hack it.

According to data pulled from FactSet by CNBC, there have been 14 venture-backed tech IPOs of U.S. companies in 2017. As of Friday's close, nine have posted positive returns from their offer price, suggesting that — at least for the moment — there are a few names that are Amazon-proof.

Roku has surged more than 200 percent since its debut in September, by far the best performer in the group. The company's streaming devices compete with Amazon's FireTV, offering over-the-top content to the growing number of cord cutters.

Stitch Fix is the rare e-commerce company to test the public markets in the face of Amazon's growing dominance. Yet the provider of curated and personalized clothing shipments has still managed to jump 57 percent from its IPO in mid-November.

Both Roku and Stitch Fix have plenty left to prove to public market investors, as the offerings are so recent that insiders haven't even had a chance to sell.

Meal kits are tough

In total, there have been 24 tech IPOs so far this year, according to data from University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter, who tracks the market. That's slightly up from 20 in 2016, but lower than every year from 2010 to 2015.

While Roku and Stitch Fix have provided shareholders a nice pop, it's generally no fun taking on Amazon. Just ask meal kit delivery provider Blue Apron, whose stock has plummeted 62 percent since debuting in June. Even though it's very early days for Amazon's own meal kits, the site sells offerings from the likes of Takeout Kit, Tyson Tastemakers and Martha & Marley Spoon.

Not only is Amazon using its vast logistics network and massive customer base to enter an increasing number of markets, but the company has proven that it can operate with almost no profit and still lure investors.

As analysts at Canaccord Genuity wrote in a report on Nov. 30, "Blue Apron faces pressure from well-capitalized technology players, such as Amazon, which has been known to run loss leading segments in order to grow market share."

That story is true well beyond the consumer market. Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing division, also hovered over a number of IPOs this year.

Of the eight notable enterprise software and cloud companies to go public, four cite AWS in their filings as a current or potential competitor — Cloudera, MongoDB, Sendgrid and Alteryx.

Mulesoft, meanwhile, is an AWS user and said in its prospectus that it counts on the service to "meet the uptime and performance requirements of our customers." And Okta's stock sank this week after AWS introduced a single sign-on product.

They're still finding wiggle room on Wall Street, though. All have posted positive returns as of Friday's close, with data analytics company Alteryx up 95 percent to lead the way, followed by Okta at 60 percent.

Amazon isn't the only tech giant that's staring down newcomers. One of the worst-performing tech IPOs of the year has been Snap, which was down more than 11 percent at Friday's close from its March offering. Investors mostly have Facebook to thank for that one.

Here's the full rundown, via FactSet, of U.S. venture-backed tech IPOs for the year, and how they've fared:

IPO
% return from offer price
Roku 220
Alteryx 95
CarGurus 90
Redfin 61
Okta 60
Stitch Fix 57
Sendgrid 34
ForeScout 26
Mulesoft 26
Yext 15
Cloudera 12
MongoDB 7
Snap -11
Blue Apron -62
FactSet