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Posts Tagged ‘OpenTable’

Article from AboveTheCrowd.

This morning, Intuit announcedits agreement to acquire one of Benchmark’s portfolio companies, Demandforce, for $424mm. As with Instagram, Benchmark Capital is the largest institutional investor in Demandforce. Unlike Instagram, which is a consumer application and is extremely well known, Demandforce focuses on local professional businesses and has chosen to keep an intentionally low profile – a strategy that has served them well.

Great entrepreneurs often blaze their own trails, and the founder and CEO of Demandforce, Rick Berry, is no different. In a day and age of social media, where many companies project a persona much larger than reality, Demandforce chose instead to focus on its customers and its products. We never even announced Benchmark’s funding of the company, which I believe is unprecedented. The Demandforce team always felt that the attention should be focused on the customer rather than the company.

Demandforce’s customer mission has always been the same – to help small businesses thrive in an evolving and increasingly complex connected world. Today, they are the leading provider of interactive “front office” SAAS services to thousands and thousands of professional small business owners. The Demandforce product is a powerful web-based application that seamlessly integrates with existing workflow systems, works automatically, and delivers guaranteed results. Through this, Demandforce provides local businesses – like salons, auto shops, chiropractors, dentists, and veterinarians – with affordable and easy access to the tools and platforms that large enterprises use to communicate with customers, build a strong online reputation and leverage network marketing. It you have ever received an automated communication from your dentist, it was likely sent through Demandforce.

Demandforce’s success puts it at the forefront of the burgeoning “Local Internet” wave. The combination of Internet pervasiveness and smartphone penetration has led to a complete reconfiguration with regard to how local businesses interact with their customers. These local businesses have traditionally spent over $125B/year on traditional media, and this is only in the U.S. But the channels they have historically used, such as the newspaper and the yellow pages, are increasingly compromised. These business owners know they need new solutions, and these dollars will be reallocated to these exciting new platforms. Benchmark believes this “Local Internet” wave is many times larger than the “social” and “mobile” themes with which it is often contrasted. In addition to DemandForce, Benchmark is fortunate to have backed such “Local Internet” market leaders as OpenTable (OPEN), Zillow (Z), Yelp (YELP), Peixe Urbano, GrubHub, Uber, and Nextdoor.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Rick Berry, Patrick Barry, Hoang Vuong, Mark Hale, Sam Osman and Annie Tsai at Demandforce. This is truly one of the best teams ever assembled. It was also a pleasure to work with Steve Kostyshen as well as Mike Maples of Floodgate and Peter Ziebelman of Palo Alto Venture Partners, all of whom preceded us in their investment, and all of whom are passionate fans of the company.

It is certainly thrilling to see a team of entrepreneurs reach a significant milestone such as this.  That said, it is equally bittersweet as it means we will no longer be working directly with them on this incredibly compelling mission. Our loss is unquestionably Brad Smith and Intuit’s gain. Combining the leading “front office” small business SAAS vendor with the iconic Silicon Valley small business company is an incredibly compelling combination.

Read more here.

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Here is a good summary from Shai Goldman on top events in the VC and tech industry of 2009.

“Given that we are just about at year-end, I wanted to provide a recap of some of the most memorable moments that took place in the venture capital and technology ecosystem.  Below is a list of  the 10 most important events:

First VC backed technology IPO –  OpenTable goes public at $20/share on May 21st.

First VC backed acquisition (above $500M) – Pure Digital acquired by Cisco for $590M.

First VC backed cleantech IPO – A123 goes public at $17/share on September 23rd.

Khosla Ventures raises $1.1B – in 2009 most VC funds were shrinking in size, yet Khosla Ventures was able to raise $1.1B, this event was a sign that Limited Partners (L.P.s) we actively seeking investment opportunities in the VC sector – September 1st.

Tesla Motors receives $465M from the D.O.E – First technology company to receive a loan guaranty – June 23rd.

Twitter raises a $100M VC round of financing – at a time when there are questions about the consumer internet sector, this funding provided some positive support that $ can be made in the sector – September 25th.

NASDAQ closes above 2,000 – August 3rd- the previous time NASDAQ was above 2,000 was September 30, 2008.

Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 – October 14th – the previous time the Dow was above 10,000 was October 2, 2008.

Apple App Store gets more that 100,000 applications published – November 4th – as you may recall the App Store launched on July 10, 2008 and the creation of the iPhone and App Store has created opportunities for both VCs and Startups to make $$.

Facebook Connect is widely adopted by 60M users and 80K sites – the utilization of Facebook Connect has allowed startup companies a way to reduce the time / effort for their users to sign up for a particular service.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is a recent article from CNN.

“If you have been an investor in technology IPOs in recent months you’ve done well.

Starting in April, and really gathering momentum this summer, there has been a slew of tech companies that leapt through the public market window including Changyou (CYOU), Rosetta Stone (RST), OpenTable (OPEN), and most recently Emdeon (EM).”

The article continues,

“Right now in Silicon Valley, investment bankers are busy making the rounds of promising portfolio companies trying to convince them of the wisdom of an IPO. There is always the question of what kind of company can – or should – go public. During the last wave of tech IPOs, after the dotcom bust, the rule of thumb was that firms with $100 million in revenue and profitability were IPO candidates.

Investment bankers on the prowl in Silicon Valley

Now, according to one prominent venture capitalist who asked to remain anonymous, investment bankers are telling him, “If a company can show revenue of $15 million per quarter, a good business model – and if not profitability, a path to profits – they can deliver an oversubscribed offering.” (One wonders wonder whether these simply are investment bankers who have had nothing to do for the last 12 months, trying to make their bonus figures.)

Venture capitalists have not had much to be happy about, either. It wasn’t just IPOs, but acquisitions that came to a screeching halt during the recession. Both of these groups desperately want the IPO window to stay open, and so far it is.”

And concludes,

“In Google’s day it was bulge-bracket investment banks – Morgan Stanley (MS), CSFB (CS), Goldman (GS), Lehman Bros or no one. The economics of the banks (characterized as going “down-market” to even do $500 million IPOs) required bigger deals. Today’s deals, with their much more modest size, are better tailored for the boutique banks – Thomas Weisel Partners, Jeffries, JMP Securities, Piper Jaffray, and the like. These are the banks pounding the streets in Silicon Valley the hardest.

Could it all end badly? Of course, and usually it does when the rush toward IPOs at some point sends half-baked companies into the public markets and they tank. But between now and then we are likely to see a group of very high quality tech companies look to go public – think Greenplum, LinkedIn, Pacific Biosciences and Zynga among many others.

For those investors with the stomach, it might not get much better.”

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Reading an analysis over the 4 IPO´s this year – OpenTable, Mead Johnson Nutritional, Bridgepoint Educational and Changyou – I came across some new speculations regarding possible IPO´s this year. We covered this topic yesterday as well.

Here is some excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article.

“In particular, the debut of network software firm SolarWinds Inc. last week showed there’s “appetite for untested, unproven, unknown names out there,” says Brenon Daly, a senior financial analyst at The 451 Group.

However, Mr. Daly cautions that few tech newcomers can match the financial strength of SolarWinds, which generated strong revenue and net-income growth in the first quarter, even as many more-established technology companies reported declines.

But he said there could be strong interest in companies such as closely held computer-security outfit Fortinet Inc.; security risk and compliance service provider Qualys Inc.; network performance software company NetQoS Inc., and systems and security management firm BigFix Inc.

A Fortinet spokesman said the company is considering an IPO, as well as other options, but has no definitive plans at this point. A Qualys spokesman said the firm wants to prepare for an IPO by the fall of 2010. NetQoS said it had no immediate plans to go public, “but all options are on the table.”

It continues…

“Another area to watch in the 12 to 18 months is smart-grid technology, which allows for more efficient power distribution, based on where and when demand and supply exist, says Trip Chowdry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research.

On her radar screen is closely held DS2, a company based in Spain that provides power-line communications semiconductors.

In the next three years, some cloud computing and enterprise-level mobility technology firms could also be ready for IPOs, she added.

For now, though, the tech environment “continues to be challenging. Investors should look for companies who have a very sticky customer base,” she says.”

Read the full article here.

Please comment on other candidates and I will seek out some info on the topic.

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Here is some optimistic news on the economic crisis blues – Steve Westly goes out on a limb and predicts some IPO´s on the CleanTech sector horizon.

The story is by way of Reuters.

“Initial public offerings as of late have been about as common as celebratory banquets for Wall Street bankers. Last week, however, after some nine months of an IPO drought, two venture-backed startups, software maker SolarWinds and online restaurant reservation system OpenTable, broke the mold and went public. Neither was a cleantech firm, but the news was a positive sign for cleantech investor Steve Westly, managing partner of Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture firm The Westly Group. Westly tells us he sees a changing appetite for companies going public, and he predicts that venture-backed cleantech IPOs will happen by early 2010.

“I’ll go out on a limb -– Tesla, Silver Spring Networks, and possibly Solyndra will go public by the first quarter of next year,” he said in an interview. “I say this because all three of these companies in 2008 did between $10 million and $15 million in revenue, and in 2009 they will do over $150 million. When a company has 10x growth, that is a company you can take public.” The Westly Group has invested about $50 million into cleantech startups, including some $5 million in electric car maker Tesla. It has not backed smart grid startup Silver Spring Networks nor thin-film solar manufacturer Solyndra.”

The article concludes:

“Stephen Simko, solar analyst for Morningstar, still thinks it will be difficult for a solar company to IPO in this market. Solar panel supply far outstrips demand today, and financing for projects is difficult to access. “If lending thaws and the U.S. solar market starts to rise that will lead to the conditions necessary for companies to improve profit and that might lead to IPOs,” he said. “But only the best of breed will be considered.” Solyndra declined to comment for this article.

Of course, it might not be any of these three startups that make headlines as the first cleantech IPO after the drought. First Wind, a wind energy developer, and lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems both filed for IPOs in late 2008. While the filings don’t necessarily mean they will go public, it at least means executives at the firms have their eyes on that prize.”

Read the full article here.

Others covering this story includes: Earth2Teach and Business Insider.

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A giant investment dilemma is coming into play as of late – the market, Silicon Valley especially, is running short on IPO candidates. The jackpots including Intel, Apple, Netscape, eBay, Yahoo and Google are all history by now. With few candidates, the payoffs look smaller and the real problem shows – where will the money come from for new investments?

Here are a good analysis taken from Silicon Valley.com.

“So how might a Facebook or LinkedIn IPO perform when the time is right? Or what will Skype’s IPO look like, assuming eBay proceeds with plans to spin it out in 2010 as a separate company?

“We’re seeing a rebuilding and stabilization of the IPO market, so that Silicon Valley firms will be able to participate.” said Jeff Grabow of the accounting firm Ernst & Young’s San Jose office, which issued its quarterly U.S. IPO Pipeline report Tuesday.”

It continues…

“The IPO is vital to the valley’s economy, promising a potential jackpot for VCs that compensates for investments that don’t pan out. Not so long ago, the valley seemed to pop out an IPO every few weeks. But since early 2008, the pipeline has been more like a sieve. The venture industry is now pushing for tax breaks and regulatory relief from Washington to revive the market.

Ernst & Young’s report offers a snapshot of the situation. Privately held companies get in the IPO pipeline by filing S-1 forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission that signal their plans to sell stock on public markets. There were 57 companies in the pipeline Dec. 31, but only 44 on March 30.

In the first quarter, 16 companies exited the pipeline — only two made Wall Street debuts. Among the others, 10 registrations had surpassed the one-year expiration for inclusion in the study, which suggests they may just be biding their time in a chilly market. Three registrants withdrew their S-1s, and one postponed. Three companies filed S-1s, including San Francisco-based OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation service.

When OpenTable filed in January, it seemed like wishful thinking in such a dreadful economy. Because SEC rules require “a quiet period” for companies that file for IPO, I couldn’t ask CEO Jeff Jordan why OpenTable was making such a move. How good could the restaurant business be with credit crunched and people pinching pennies?”

Read the full article here.

Other covering the issue: Techmeme, TechSheep, Congoo

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