Big Data might be transforming into a big business, but at this point, there’s only been one IPO in the sector: Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK).
Granted, that single IPO has been a big winner — SPLK came public a year ago at $17 but now trades around $44 — but the field’s looking kind of lonely.
Though maybe not for long.
One IPO possibility in the Big Data is GoodData. Founded in 2007, GoodData leverages cloud technologies to help companies with business intelligence, which involves helping clients to get a better sense of key trends affecting their sector.
The industry is currently dominated by legacy players like IBM(NYSE:IBM) and SAP (NYSE:SAP) that use on-premise solutions. But GoodData is becoming a growing presence.
Last year, GoodData’s revenues surged by a multiple of five (though the company has not released actual figures), and the customer count increased three times over to more than 8,000. More than 40 of its deals were for six-figures.
IDC projects the Big Data segment to grow 32% annually and hit $23.8 billion by 2016, so the market opportunity is massive.
To scale out, GoodData has raised a total of $53.5 million. Investors include tier-1 players likeAndreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst Partners, Fidelity Growth Partners, Next World Capital, Tenaya Capital and Windcrest Partners.
I’ve known the founder and CEO of GoodData, Roman Stanek, for some time. He’s a veteran of the tech world, previously launching NetBeans (which was sold to Sun) and Systinet (which was sold to Mercury Interactive). In the video interview below, I talk to Stanek about the company and the mobile enterprise:
Building a great mobile app is not just about having a good idea, strong technology and a cool design. You also need to have analytics.
And one of the leading players in the market isMixpanel. Last year, Andreesen Horowitzinvested about $10.25 million in the company. Interestingly enough, a key reason for the deal was that the venture partners kept seeing Mixpanel analytics embedded in investor pitches!
As of now, the company has over 1,000 customers, which include breakout operators like Airbnb, Fitbit, Path, Sidecar, Zeptolab and TaskRabbit. The platform crunches about 11 billion actions per month.
No doubt, Mixpanel has the typical features. That is, there is an SDK that you hook into an app — which beams data to a server — and you can track things via a dashboard.
But there is definitely more. “Companies should have lots of metrics,” said Suhail Doshi, who is the co-founder of the company. “But often they are not useful, such as downloads or page views. With Mixpanel, you can measure the actions of users. The purpose is to understand engagement.”
This is especially important with a mobile app. “Engagement is hard to fake,” he said. “It also shows how good a product really is.”
But of course, Mixpanel provides other useful features. For example, you can track the lifetime value of a user. Oh, and then there are some nifty marketing capabilities.
Consider one of Mixpanel’s customers, BeauCoo. “Traditional analytics tools were not working for us,” said Christian MacLean, who is the company’s CEO and co-founder.
But with Mixpanel, BeauCoo has been able to supercharge its business. “We actually first test on the web and then go to Android and then to iPhone,” he said. “It’s worked very well.”
Christian also noted that Mixpanel has helped allow for better targeting of the user base. “We can segment our traffic and make relevant push notifications,” he said. “Actually, we use no other analytics tools except for Mixpanel.”
Investors were left guessing Wednesday night following Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) first-quarter earnings report.
FB registered a slight beat on revenues, posting $1.46 billion vs. expectations of $1.44 billion. However, the bottom line was light, with adjusted profits of 12 cents per share coming in a penny shy. The reaction? Fractional moves up and down, at least in the early hours of postmarket trading.
Facebook has been investing heavily in its mobile efforts, such as with ad platforms and new apps. On this front, the company is starting to see some amount of payback — on a quarter-over-quarter basis, the mobile ad business grew from 23% of revenues to 30% (for a total of $375 million).
Another positive: FB continues to attract scores of users. Monthly active mobile users spiked 54% year-over-year to 751 million — more than triple the figure tallied in Q1 2011. Also of note: Facebook currently has about 189 million mobile-onlymonthly users.
On the conference call, Mark Zuckerberg provided a couple other interesting tidbits. One that stuck out was that Instagram now has 100 million monthly users and is growing at a faster rate than Facebook did at this level.
Facebook also is becoming a core part of the overall mobile experience. Keep in mind that 81 of the 100 highest-grossing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone apps are integrated into the platform, and half of them are using Facebook ads.
Not all is well on the mobile front, however. Its recent Home app — essentially a homepage forGoogle (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices — is getting pounded early on in the form of poor ratings and comments on the Google Play app store.
Naturally, Zuckeberg says it’s too early to determine Facebook Home’s success or failure.
Given the horrible performances of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), there has not been much activity with social IPOs. Instead, investors seem more interested in enterprise cloud operators, as seen with hot deals like ServiceNow (NYSE:NOW) and Workday (NYSE:WDAY).
Still, at some point, it’s inevitable that we’ll start seeing social IPOs hit the market again — especially those that have a mobile-first focus.
One good possibility: Shazam. The company has an app that allows your phone to recognize a song or TV show by hearing the lyrics or grabbing a screen capture. From there, you can get more information and find similar content.
So why might Shazam think about going public? First of all, the company has been around since 2002. In other words, there is probably lots of pressure from investors to get a return on their initial investments.
Plus, Shazam has recently hired a new CEO: Rich Riley. He has a strong corporate background, having been the former executive vice president of the Americas for Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). In fact, it was noted in the press release that a big reason for his hiring is to help prep for a public offering.
Whenever that happens, the Shazam IPO is likely to be a hot one. The company has over 300 million users across 200 countries. In fact, there are about 2 million new users added every week.
Besides having a strong brand and cutting-edge technology, Shazam has also been smart to make its app available across many platforms. These include Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) line.
There is a chance that Shazam may not even list in the U.S. — maybe pulling off its offering in London (where the company is headquartered) or even Asia. But again, the U.S. market is going to get hungry for social deals at some point. When that happens, a Shazam deal on the NYSE or NASDAQ would likely attract the interest of investors and also provide a nice slug of capital.
To get some more background on Shazam, I chatted today to talk to the co-founders of a new mobile-first company, BeauCoo. They are a husband-and-wife team – Victoria and Christian MacLean — focused on the consumer space. Here’s what they had to say about Shazam:
The mobile revolution is hot, but not all companies taking part in it are heating up as a result. Just look at Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ:BRCM). The company has focused heavily on mobile but has hardly seen its stock climb as a result.
The average return for BRCM over the past five years has been a miserable 4.5%. More recently, the stock has been stuck in a range of about $30 to $35.
Today, though, BRCM showed that it can get juiced up, with the stock gaining about 7%.
Does this mean the company may be on the verge of breaking out of its rut?
Perhaps. No doubt, BRCM posted a solid first quarter, with revenues up over 10% to $2 billion and earnings coming to $191 million, or 33 cents per share, up from $88 million, or 15 cents a share from the same period a year ago. When making one-time adjustments, the earnings came to 65 cents — 9 cents better than the Street expected.
The momentum should continue, too. BRCM’s forecast for the second quarter is for revenues of $2.1 billion, plus or minus 4%. The analysts’ consensus was for $2.05 billion.
But this should not necessarily be an issue BRCM. After all, the company has been getting more business from other players in the mobile space like Samsung (PINK:SSNLF).
More importantly, the overall industry should continue to grow for the long-haul. At the core of BRCM is expertise in regards to technology and powerful Internet connections. With the move towards LTE — which will mean much more video — there should be a nice boost.
Plus, there are the huge opportunities in emerging markets, especially in Asia. Smartphones, tablets and phablets are becoming must-have items.
Something else: BRCM is a leader in near-field communication (NFC) technology. Essentially, this allows for mobile transactions. While the market is still in the nascent stages, the potential is enormous. It seems inevitable that smartphones will morph into virtual wallets.
To top it off, BRCM has tremendous scale. Just last year, the company shipped over 700 million mobile combo chips and another 700 million for Ethernet connections. All in all, this is a testament to the company’s core technology.
Then again, the company plows about $2 billion a year into R&D. It definitely helps that BRCM has $3.93 billion in the bank and keeps cranking out lots of cash flow (there was $388 million in Q1).
Going forward, BRCM is likely to remain a top player in the mobile space — and this will drive growth on both the top line and bottom line. And the stock price is still trading at a reasonable valuation, coming to a forward price-to-earnings ratio of about 11x.
In other words, for investors that want to find a long-term play on mobile, BRCM looks like a good choice.
The stock market may seem complicated if not rigged. But the fact is that many people have done quite well over the years.
So to make things easier — and increase the odds of success — there’s a new iOS app to help out. It’s called Robinhood.
For the most part, you can create a playlist of stocks and track the performance. You can then share your picks with your friends. Oh, and there are also helpful newsfeeds that are based on your portfolio.
In theory, you should be able to get a sense of who the real stock pickers are — those who probably need to do more homework!
At the core of Robinhood is a sophisticated Big Data back-end, which is based on lots of algorithms. Yes, the company’s co-founders, Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, are math whizzes and are graduates of Stanford (both got master’s degrees in math). They also have built technologies for institutional investors and investment banks.
“Robinhood is a great tool for surfacing the next generation of Warren Buffets,” said Vladimir. “Investors are constantly on the lookout for new information and ideas. Financial advisors, brokers, and investment research firms derive much of their edge from being gatekeepers of this information. With Robinhood, the aim is to make a transparent and free social platform for investing ideas, and give every investor equal access to this platform. This way, individuals gain access to a wide variety of opinions, and those who perform best are rewarded with more exposure and recognition.”
And how will Robinhood make money? According to Vladimir: “We hope to add a premium set of features at a later time.”
But perhaps the biggest opportunity is to turn Robinhood into a next generation stock brokerage. And yes, Robinhood is already in the process of getting the regulatory approval to pull this off.
Mike Volpi, who is a partner at Index Ventures, is at the forefront of some of the hottest operators in the mobile space. Consider that he’s on the boards of Path and Lookout.
When it comes to technology, Mike certainly has a deep understanding of the nuances. For example, he got his start at Hewlett-PackardHPQ -1.37%’s (NYSE:HPQ) optoelectronics division and then went on to Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), where he became a vice president of a division that generated $11 billion in revenues.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Mike and he definitely had some great insights on the trends in mobile. Let’s take a look:
Q: What’s your take on the macro opportunity?
A: At a baseline, the macro opportunity is really huge. If you project forward, with emerging markets in China and India, you are talking about 5 to 6 billion devices. It’s an order of magnitude higher versus the traditional PC world.
The second thing, for a lot of people, is that the youth in developed and emerging countries for the first experience with the Internet is with mobile devices.
This is why developing for “mobile first” is so important.
Q: What are some of the challenges?
A: Things are a little more challenging in the mobile world. Battery life and bandwidth are big trade offs. Also straight adaptations of web sites do not work.
Virality is more complex as well. How a user brings in another user is tougher. This means there needs to be a more sophisticated art to get people to download an app.
And users are a lot less sticky. They will often try and then abandon an app. So developers need to be more thoughtful when engaging users. This is where using things like notifications can be helpful
Q: OK, so where do you see the opportunities right now?
A: There is a large investment opportunity in the PC world because we can move it over to mobile. Lookout is an example. This is a security company much like McAfee or SymantecSYMC -0.93% (NASDAQ:SYMC). Then there is Path, which is a social network built solely for mobile. Of course, Facebook ‘s (NASDAQ:FB) Instagram is about bringing photos to the mobile world.
At the same time, there are a wide variety of apps that are enabled because of mobility. They can use location, notifications and SMS messages. Every sector we look at, say e-commerce or storage, will become more useful because of mobile.
If you take a look at the Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) app store or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play, you’ll notice that some of the most popular apps are from chat operators. In fact, this is likely a big reason Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) recently announced “Facebook Home” for Android. It has feature called a chat-head, which pops up on the screen when a friend has sent a message.
But even with the new program, Facebook still faces some tough competition. In fact, many of the top operators have been in the market for several years and have built-up massive user bases.
Launched in late 2010, the app was the first cross-platform system that allowed for video calls and messaging. In fact, it snagged 1 million downloads within the first ten days … and the growth has not let up. As of now, there are over 110 million downloads across the iOS, Android and even Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.
That’s not all, though; Tango is not just about sending messages. You can even play games on the platform and make free VOIP calls if you want. Plus, perhaps the biggest differentiator for Tango is rich video capabilities, which work even in wi-fi environments. To pull this off, the company has assembled a top-notch engineering team of over 100 people.
Yesterday, I interviewed the company’s co-founder and CTO, Eric Setton. He started his career as a research scientist at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) Labs and, before starting Tango, built another video streaming compan, wrote the first book on peer-to-peer video back in 2007 and holds six patents in the category.
In my interview with Eric, he had some interesting insights about the Facebook Home effort. Take a look:
Chances are you haven’t heard of Azul Systems … but you’ve probably benefited from the company’s back-end technology. Essentially, Azul develops systems to help improve the Java language, which is the bedrock of many important web apps like stock exchanges, auction sites and e-commerce platforms.
When it comes to today’s requirements for financial transactions, every second — or millisecond — counts. That’s the laser-focus for Azul.
Azul’s main competitor is the mighty Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), but its underdog status has not been much of a problem. In fact, the smaller company keeps stealing customers. One of the latest wins was the LMAX Exchange — a fast-growing forex market platform that processes about $3 billion in daily transactions and, at peak levels, can handle 40,000 transactions per second. It’s a prime example of Big Data.
Azul sure isn’t short on backing either. Since Azul was founded in 2002, it has raised over $100 million in venture capital. Some of the investors include tier-one firms like Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and JVax Investment Group. It’s a good bet that Azul will eventually look for an exit, whether via an acquisition or IPO.
In fact, I recently had a chance to talk to the company’s CEO Scott Sellers, whose tech career spans more than 23 years. Back in the 1990s, he founded 3dfx Interactive, which was a developer of high-end graphics cards often used for video games. He took the company public and then eventually sold it to NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA). Along the way, he was able to get eight patents issued in his name.
In our interview, Sellers talked about the current environment for tech — which he thinks remains robust — and the strong trends for enterprise technology, especially in light of the mega-trends like mobile, social networking and cloud computing. He also has some interesting things to say about the recent deal with the LMAX Exchange. Take a look!