Both Kayak.com, an online travel booking site, and Palo Alto Networks, a network security company, made their market debuts this morning, the first tech IPOs since Facebook's abysmal debut. Their performances don't look anything like Facebook's. That may be a good thing for these companies, but not necessarily for the social media bubble. Kayak had an initial 28.2 percent pop, with the stock trading up $7.32 from its initial $26 offer price. Palo Alto is also trading up about 30 percent from its debut, giving it a pop, too. (IPOs are designed -- for better, or worse -- to have these initial spikes.) When Facebook had its IPO coming out, on the other hand, the stock went from $38 to $42, but ended the day right above $38. The subsequent days saw the stock fall even farther than that.
Following that stock market sadness, it looked like Facebook had ruined Silicon Valley IPOs for a while. Thus today's 30 percent rises could be evidence of more froth in an industry whose bubble looked droopy. Some, then, have taken the occasion of these healthy IPOs to call this the beginning of the end of the end of the Internet IPO. That's what TechCruch's "Whew!" headline suggests. Others say that Facebook's "freeze" has begun to thaw, or that its jinx has been lifted. The thinking goes that after Facebook, tech companies didn't want to risk going public because of how poorly Facebook did—in other words, Facebook popped the bubble. Kayak in fact stalled its IPO, right after Facebook fizzled, only rescheduling as Facebook's stock stabilized, sort of.
But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. These two companies have some very good reasons for healthy economic outlooks while the same can't be said for Facebook and the rest of the social media business. The thing is, these companies aren't really social media companies. They both sell stuff. Facebook's business, on the other hand, sells people and their data. While Facebook and their social media brethren have many new ways to group people together, from a business standpoint ultimately they look just like any other popular website with banner ads. Kayak makes booking flights easier by indexing hundreds of travel sites. Plus, it's popular and has "an appealing growth story" as a Lazard Capital Markets analyst told Deal Journal's David Benoit. Palo Alto, on the other hand, sells a concrete, old-school product: software. They actually sell the hardware for their software too, providing firewall security technology.
Though Kayak and Palo Alto have seen big days on the market, market skepticism for social media still lingers. Facebook's stock is trading down at the moment, hovering around the 29 mark, many dollars below its market debut. LinkedIn is down for the day, too. The tech IPO may be back, but the social media IPO has yet to prove itself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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