By Brenon Daly
For the third time in just two months, a tech company that had planned to go public has instead ended up inside a company that’s already public. The latest dual-track sale came Wednesday when Force10 Networks opted to accept a bid from Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) rather than see through its IPO plan. The networking gear vendor had filed its prospectus in March 2010.
The deal follows one month after would-be debutant Apache Design Solutions sold to ANSYS (NASDAQ:ANSS) and two months after SiGe Semiconductor went to Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS). Those three transactions probably only generated about $1.2bn in liquidity, including Force10’s reported price of roughly $700m. (As a side note, we might point out that Deutsche Bank Securities was a book runner on all three proposed IPOs.)
As this trio of enterprise-focused startups finds itself snapped out of the IPO pipeline, consumer-oriented companies continue to receive a warm welcome on Wall Street. Consider this: Zillow (NASDAQ:Z), which went public earlier this week, now trades at about 20 times trailing revenue. In contrast, Force10, SiGe and Apache Design garnered much more modest valuations ranging roughly from 2-6x trailing revenue in their sales.