As Erick pointed out yesterday, IPO registrations are up. But even if all of these companies go out, does this mean VCs are out of the no liquidity woods? Hardly.
Sure everyone brings up LinkedIn and Facebook as the potentially huge homerun IPOs in the wings, but a lot of the companies queuing up look more like OpenTable.
The reservation Web site deserves props for making it out in a tricky time— the weekend it was picking its bankers one declared bankruptcy and another sold itself to a competitor. And yes, the price has impressively stayed above the $20 opening. But take a closer look at the deal: Only three million shares were floated to the public. No wonder the price has held– hardly anyone is in the stock. With a whopping 18 million still owned by insiders and investors, OpenTable looks more like a private company that just did another round of funding than a public company.
Given that insiders of other private companies are increasingly cashing out shares in later private funding rounds, is there practically a lot of difference returns-wise between a heady Series E or a small IPO with such a tiny float?
OpenTable’s real test will be what happens once insiders start selling to get liquidity. CEO Jeff Jordan addressed that in his first post-quiet period interview, shot last week for my Yahoo show, TechTicker. (Clip below, around the seven minute mark.)
Jordan also notes at the two minute mark in this clip that since OpenTable priced, he’s been getting a flood of calls from Valley CEOs who are thinking about filing, so expect the mini-registration boom to continue. Actual returns for the beleaguered asset class, however, will be a different story.