Medidata IPO Bookends CEO's 'American Dream'

Tarek Sherif, Chairman and Chief Executive of Medidata Solutions, brought along a big crowd of employees to open trading at the Nasdaq marketsite Thursday to watch the company's shares debut. He wanted to share the excitement of moment.

"I'm really proud of having had the opportunity to do this," the 47-year old clinical trials software executive said, after Medidata shares opened well above where they'd priced the night before.

Tarek Sherif, CEO Medidata Solutions
Tarek Sherif, CEO Medidata Solutions
Tarek Sherif, CEO Medidata Solutions

The company priced its initial public offering of 6.3 million shares at $14 per share. In addition, selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 945,000 more shares at the IPO price to cover over-allotments. The shares debuted at $18 per share Thursday on the Nasdaq Global Market.

For Sherif it was the realization of a dream that began 41 years prior — to the day — when his family landed in the United States on June 25, 1968.

"We took a boat, because my mom was afraid to fly,” says the Egyptian-born executive. “I remember my parents waking me up, so that I could see the Statue of Liberty as we approached New York."

Sherif co-founded Medidata in 1999, helping grow the company from an eight-person firm to a 600-employee company operating in several countries. The New York-based firm creates software for biopharmaceutical and medical-device companies, which help design and implement clinical trials.

It's pure chance that the company debuted on the anniversary of his coming to the United States, but Sherif says his success has everything to do with the American experience.

"This is the opportunity afforded to you in this country," he said. "I can build a company that really helps people."

(Disclosure: Bertha Coombs and Tarek Sherif were classmates at Yale University.)