IPO Corner: Big Data, Bigger Intelligence

Have you ever made a decision that you were so sure of, you bet the farm on it… only to find out later that you didn’t have all the information and it caused you to initiate a tower moment in your own life? Yeah, same here. That’s because, whether we like it or not, power doesn’t come from things, power comes from information. Essentially, data is king… and data is what we’re going to focus on today.

While data is often made out to sound like something super complex and difficult to understand, it’s not. Data is simply facts collected and put together, like a puzzle, to extract information to make decisions, and businesses leverage this data in what’s called business intelligence. Data intelligence technology facilitates this because it helps users unlock the value of their data to better understand and derive actionable information.

Data intelligence involves processes that help make sure users get trustworthy, accurate information. Companies then use this intelligence to make all kinds of decisions, most especially about you (the customer), other business entities, and about what market conditions might look like in both the near and long term. Businesses will take large sets of data and use it to streamline processes including governance, risk management, and spend management. See… data is foundational to success.

When describing the forecasted growth for the intelligence and analytics market around data, recent reports are stuffed with phrases like “expand significantly” and “propel revenue growth”, with the market looking at reaching a hefty $60.49 billion in the next five years. Think about it, metaverse proponents even want to digitize our likeness… with so much being moved to the virtual world, tools around data are going to be more important than ever. Due to demand for real-time, data-driven solutions, a rising need to identify customer behavior across industries, and an increasing adoption of search-driven analytics, this space is ballooning quickly.

Deals To Watch

Upcoming IPOs in the space that are on our radar are Near, Qlik, and Databricks. Near is a data intelligence firm based in southern California that was started in 2012 by Anil Mathews. The company has grown quickly and today works with major brands including Wendy’s, Ford, and MetLife. In fact, the company’s cloud-based, privacy-by-design AI platform, Allspark, is used by 60% of Fortune 500 companies. At this point, the company boasts 1.6 billion anonymized user profiles attached to 44 countries in 70 million locations.

The company recently announced plans to go public through a merger with blank-check vehicle KludeIn I Acquisition Corporation at a valuation of around $1 billion. The company is also picking up a $100 million equity investment into its business from Cantor Fitzgerald affiliate, CF Principal Investments and other investors include names such as JP Morgan, Cisco, and Sequoia India. A firm date for the listing has not yet been made, but we are expecting to see this happen sometime this year.

Data analytics platform Qlik, founded in Sweden in 1993, was formed after the company’s team noticed that, while there were established business intelligence software vendors, customers were being underserved because these companies failed to deliver data in a digestible, visual form that served decision-makers fully… they set out to change that. The company offers a hybrid cloud service that brings analytics to wherever data resides.

The company confidentially filed paperwork with U.S. regulators for an initial public earlier this year, this comes six years after it was acquired by buyout firm Thoma Bravo, which took Qlik private in 2016 through a nearly $3 billion deal. The Pennsylvania-based company expects to complete a public offering following the SEC review process with information on the number of shares it plans to sell, the expected price range, and definitive listing date to come.

And finally, Databricks… which is throwing all the flags of an IPO. The company, headquartered in San Francisco, California, is an AI-powered data analytics company synonymous with cloud-based “lakehouse” architecture. Essentially, large “lakes” of raw data with warehouse processing structures. Databricks is a big name in this space, with operations in more than 12 countries, partnerships with over 450 international firms, more than 5,000 organizations as customers, and more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies on their platform.

The company is on track to reach $1 billion in revenue this year after seeing a spike in interest in cloud-based analytics due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company recently landed a $38 billion valuation, a number that makes it one of the highest valued private companies around… and this is important because the lakehouse data structure is expected to prevail as dominant (as opposed to hierarchical structures traditionally preferred in the space), and this is expected to push Databricks further to the head of the pack. Leadership in the organization has hinted at an IPO via direct listing sometime this year.

There’s a saying in business, you’re only as strong as your data… that strategic decisions based off inconsistent or nonexistent data facilitates the downfall of the mighty. Solid, sound decisions are based off complete sets of data… so, for those looking to play in this space, the name of the game is organization and presentation. Any winners here are going to be the players that know what to do with data once it’s in their hands… how to use that data to drive the outcomes. Do any of these companies have what it takes to make the cut and land themselves on my Buy List? As the saying goes, time will tell, and so will we.