Top tech IPOs to watch for in 2017

Last year was a dog for initial public offerings on U.S. soil. It was so bad it achieved the double whammy of having the fewest IPOs (105) since 2009 and for the lowest dollar volume ($18.8 billion) since 2003.

But don’t lose hope investors; President Trump is here to Make IPOs Great Again. If all bodes well this year could easily surpass 2015’s total of $30 billion with some big tech companies preparing to go public.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most anticipated IPOs for 2017.

Snapchat

The wildly popular messaging app’s parent – Snap Inc – is poised to be the first big fish to hit the market, reportedly offering 200 million shares at between $14 and $16 per share. That would give it a valuation between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion, easily making it the largest IPO since Alibaba in 2014 ($25 billion).

While Wall Street is generally high on Snapchat and its 160 million daily users, doubters flag the social network’s unprofitability and decelerating user growth. The company reportedly earned more than $400 million in 2016, but costs were upwards of $500 million. It’s attempting to find new revenue streams by rebranding itself as a “camera company” and making virtual reality glasses a la Google, but faces some stiff competition.

Some analysts, such as Eric Schiffer of private equity firm Patriarch Organization, are decidedly down, telling Vanity Fair: “Snapchat will be the greatest investment loser of the 21st century.”

When Facebook (FB) went public in May 2012 it had annual revenues of $1 billion and listed at $42. Still the social media giant’s stock price tumbled over the ensuing months to $18, before rebounding and incrementally rising to more than $130 today.

Ultimately, says The Economist, how well Snapchat fares as a public company will “serve as a litmus test of whether it is possible to prosper in the shadow of digital behemoths like Facebook and Google.”

Uber

The ride-hailing darling whose name is now used as a verb among its key millennial base, as in to “Uber over,” will likely wait until after the Snapchat IPO to gauge investor appetite for its own public offering. Despite raising more than $11 billion as a private company, giving it a monstrous valuation close to $70 billion, Uber hemorrhages money. It was on track to lose more than $3 billion in 2016, forcing it to ditch its China operation. The market is also wary of looming legal battles over whether Uber’s drivers are employees or independent contractors and its plans to eventually convert to self-driving cars.

Uber has historically revealed little in regards to its financials, which it would be forced to do with a public offering. It could likely keep raising money privately for the foreseeable future, but may bow to early-stage investors who will be agitating to see a return.

Palantir

The data-mining company was founded way back in 2004 and, like Uber, will have some very anxious investors looking to cash out. Palantir, valued at $20 billion, boasts a number of high-profile security clients, including the U.S. military. Chief executive Alex Karp has already met with President Trump and has indicated the company will turn a profit this year, putting it in a position to go public.

Spotify

As a condition of its $1-billion funding round last year, the music-streaming site agreed to go public this year or pay greater interest on its debt. With about 100 million subscribers – 40 percent of which are paying – Spotify has been valued at more than $8 billion. However, recent reports indicate the company may hold off its IPO until 2018 in order to improve its margins.

That may be wise, as competitor Pandora (P) went public in 2011 at $16 a share, but the music service now trades around $13.

Dropbox

The cloud storage startup is reportedly mulling an IPO this year. Last year saw several competitors go public, most notably Coupa Software (COUP). Dropbox, which has more than 400 million users and boasts Spotify and News Corp as clients, has far better brand recognition and lower customer acquisition costs. Founded a decade ago, Dropbox was valued at $10 billion after its last funding round in 2014. That’s far greater than competitor Carbonite Inc (CARB), which went public in 2011 at $10 a share and is now trading at double that price.

Pinterest

The craft-oriented social network has a similar valuation to Dropbox and looks primed for an IPO after poaching former Twitter finance exec Todd Morgenfeld to be its chief financial officer. Another thing it has going for it is a fast-growing user base, jumping from 100 million to 150 million users from 2015 to 2016. Revenues also tripled during that same span, rising to $300 million from $100 million in 2015. CEO Ben Silbermann, however, says there are no imminent IPO plans.

Slack

The messaging app is growing even faster than Pinterest, quadrupling its daily active users from 1 million to 4 million in an 18-month period between mid-2015 and the end of 2016. But erstwhile investors will need to be patient after chief executive Stewart Butterfield threw some shade on an IPO, suggesting it will be “a while” until it happens.

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