You can open your eyes now: Okta soars 38 percent in first-day trading

Okta IPO NASDAQ 4-7-17

Maybe it’s finally safe to go back in the water.

Enterprise-focused identity management startup Okta Inc. took a gamble on today’s initial public offering, pricing its shares at the top end of its $15 to $17 target, but the bet paid off as the stock surged nearly 40 percent to close at $23.51 in NASDAQ trading after hitting a midday high of $24.50.

Okta was the third enterprise software company to go public in the last month, following MuleSoft Inc.’s March 17 debut and Alteryx Inc.’s IPO a week later. But one trading day does not a market darling make. MuleSoft, whose stock was priced the same as Okta’s at IPO, jumped an even higher 44 percent on its first day. However, the stock has meandered since. It ended today slightly below its day one close. Alteryx rose 11 percent on its first day and is up an additional 7 percent since.

Still, investors and software entrepreneurs have to be pleased with the fact that the recent crop of enterprise-oriented IPOs have managed to hold their valuation fairly well. An earlier entrant, Talend SA, has even been on a bit of a tear recently, rising more than 40 percent from its Dec. 9 low.

Okta’s software-as-a-service platform provides secure identity management and single sign-on to applications in the cloud, on-premises and on mobile devices. As reported in its S-1 filing, its annual revenues have nearly quadrupled over the last three years to $160.3 million in the most recent fiscal year. However, losses have grown in that time as well, reaching $83 million in fiscal 2017.

The company claims 3,100 customers in 185 countries, including big names such as Clorox Co., Kohl’s Corp., Levi Strauss & Co., American Express Co. and Consolidated Edison Inc. Its blue-chip investors include Andreessen Horowitz LLC, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures LLC and Sequoia Capital Operations LLC. Okta says its software is used by 2 million people daily.

“Okta’s performance today is a positive signal for the enterprise software space and reflects the continued growth and demand for security solutions,” said Merritt Maxim, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. While cautioning that “it is always hard to draw firm conclusions from just one IPO, Okta’s success suggests that we may see more enterprise-tech-oriented IPOs in 2017 than we did in 2016.” There were just 21 such offerings last year, according to Renaissance Capital, making it the worst year for tech IPOs since 2009.

Okta’s success should help embolden other public-market wannabes, including Cloudera Inc., which is expected to offer shares within the next month, and its rival MapR Technologies Inc., which made no secret of its intentions when it took in a $50 million funding round last August.

Image: Okta