by Brenon Daly
In a rip-roaring debut, Splunk (SPLK) soared onto the public market Thursday in an IPO that created more than $3bn of market value for the data analytics vendor. That's a heady, double-digit valuation for a company that's likely to generate only about $200m in sales this year. (Just as we predicted last week, the company has captured the attention of Wall Street.)
But Splunk's rich pricing simply reflects the tremendous opportunity that the company has in front of it. If the name 'Splunk' conjures up images of exploring a cave, or 'spelunking,' we might suggest that a more accurate way to view the company is one ready to run - and run quickly - into a wide-open greenfield.
The company, which has already garnered 3,700 customers across a broad number of industries, makes the pitch that any company with large amounts of data is a potential customer. Splunk's core offering is a search product that helps users make sense of the ever-increasing volumes of data, much of it machine-generated.
After it got going in 2003, Splunk had most of its use cases around IT operations and security. However, the company has expanded its product to also cover application performance management, online customer experience monitoring, marketing and beyond.
Originally, Splunk's seven underwriters set a range of $8-10 for each share, but then ended up pricing at double that level at $17 each. In the aftermarket, the stock nearly doubled again, changing hands in the low $30s in mid-Thursday trading on the Nasdaq.
A final interesting little market anecdote about the offering: With roughly 100 million shares outstanding, Splunk is starting its life as a public company at almost exactly the same amount ($3.3bn) that Hyperion Solutions finished its life as a public company. Splunk's current CEO Godfrey Sullivan was previously CEO at Hyperion, which sold to Oracle (ORCL) five years ago.