MuleSoft soars 46% on first day of trading

It’s the first enterprise tech IPO of the year and it’s off to the races.

MuleSoft, which helps businesses like Netflix and Spotify with their APIs, closed at $24.75, a 46 percent premium to its IPO price of $17. This was after pricing above the expected range of $14 to $16.

The company was able to raise $221 million in the IPO, but they could have raised a lot more if they priced it at $20. Bankers usually aim for 20-30 percent “pop” on the first day to start off on good terms with the stock market. If the company prices it too low it means they left “money on the table.”

This sounds a lot like Snap, which also priced above the range at $17 and went up almost as much on the first day of trading. But just two weeks later, Snap has already fallen beneath $20.

It’s mainly institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals with friendly relationships with the underwriting banks who got access at $17, as is the standard with IPOs. MuleSoft opened today at $24.25, so the $24.75 close means that ordinary investors saw pretty small gains.

MuleSoft went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday under the ticker “MULE.” This is another win for the NYSE, after getting Snap’s listing.

MuleSoft had $187.7 million in revenue last year, which is up from $110.3 million in 2015 and $57.6 million the year before. Net losses stood at $49.6 million, down from $65.4 million the year before.

The company previously raised $259 million in funding at a $1.5 billion valuation. Lightspeed Venture Partners has the largest stake at 17.1 percent, Hummer Winblad owns 15.8 percent and New Enterprise Associates has 14.3 percent of the company shares. Morgenthaler Partners, Sapphire Ventures and Bay Partners also own a sizable chunk.

Ravi Mhatre, partner at Lightspeed, said he recognized the company was a good investment in the early days because the founding team “had a clear vision.” Lightspeed also invested in recent IPOs Snap and Nutanix, with Mhatre saying their secret to picking winners is that they look for companies that are “scalable and enduring.”

Dharmesh Thakker, general partner at Battery Ventures, missed out on the MuleSoft investment, but is optimistic about enterprise IPOs generally. Unlike consumer IPOs, enterprise IPOs see “steady growth as opposed to explosive ups and downs,” he said. Enterprise companies generally have more predictability to their business models, which serves them well as public companies. 

The last couple of years have been disappointing for tech IPOs. Last year, very few companies entered the public markets. And in 2015, half the newly public tech companies were trading below their IPO price by the end of the year.

There is an “IPO window” as bankers like to call it, and the success of recent IPOs means that it is now wide open. Venture-backed companies like Yext, Okta, Cloudera and ForeScout are all on a long list of companies that are ready to brave the markets in the coming months.

Of course, windows can change, and if the stock market sees some dips, that could prevent some of these companies from going through with their offering. And some of the larger consumer companies like Airbnb and Uber don’t seem to be planning to go public in the near future.