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A10 IPO Sputters Off the Ground

Mitch Wagner
3/21/2014
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The application delivery controller peddler A10 Networks had a tepid start to its first day of trading as a public company Friday.

As of 2:05 p.m. ET, the stock price was $15.55, up about 3.7% from the IPO price of $15. A10 initially traded below its IPO price, starting at $13.75. A10 Networks Inc. sold 12.5 million shares in its IPO, raising $187.50 million.

How does Lee Chen, founder and CEO, feel about the pricing? "I'm more the long-term value investor, so I don't pay attention to one day trading up or down," Chen told us, dodging the question diplomatically.

A10 Networks founder and CEO Lee Chen rings the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange. Given the stock's tepid performance on the first day of trading, he should have just tapped the bell gently.
A10 Networks founder and CEO Lee Chen rings the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange. Given the stock's tepid performance on the first day of trading, he should have just tapped the bell gently.

Other business software stocks with recent IPOs performed a lot better, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required). For example, the retail e-commerce software maker Borderfree Inc., which also started trading Friday, had gained 23% by midday, passing its IPO price of $16 to trade at about $19.50. The health plan software provider Castlight Health had gained 149%.

Financial journalists and Wall Street watchers look for rocket rides on the first day of an IPO, but spectacular first-day gains funnel most of their rewards to IPO underwriters and first-day speculators. Modest IPO gains reward the people who actually helped build a newly public company: venture capitalists, employees, and other early investors.

So what about that long-term value? A10 reported that its revenue rose 18% last year to $141.7 million last year after rising 32% the previous year.

Revenue growth over the last four years has been 37% annually, Chen said. The company has made a business decision to invest in long-term growth, and it has a three- to five-year model to achieve profitability.

A-10 is "playing at the center of four megatrends," Chen said: big data, mobility, security, and cloud computing. Its appliances provide load balancing, application delivery, quality of service, password management, and more. A10 launched a DDOS protection product in January. (See A10 Enters DDOS Protection Market.)

From 2010 through 2013, A10 was weighed down by an intellectual property lawsuit filed against the company by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD). That suit was settled in May 2013. A10 says it hurt it through the direct costs of fighting the litigation and by reducing demand for A10 products due to marketplace uncertainty. Now that the suit has been settled, A10 expects demand to pick up briskly. (See Brocade & A10 Settle.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/23/2014 | 3:55:38 PM
Re: Congrats
I think that the comment from the CEO isn't diplomatic. The purpose of the leader of the company is to build that long term value.

These guys have to think ahead, often further out than the time that they will hold the postion in order to best prepare a company for the future. 
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
3/21/2014 | 9:20:56 PM
The market
The ADC market is really interesting right now with a lot of companies jockeying for bigger shares with Cisco backing out. Long-term, how they use this money and higher profile to gain some advantage in that market will be very telling.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/21/2014 | 5:46:52 PM
Re: Congrats
That's the way I read it too -- early investors get paid back, with a little something for people who bought the IPO stock. A good day. But I'm no expert. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/21/2014 | 5:20:52 PM
Closing price
Closing price: $16.21. I'll declare anything above the IPO price to be a victory, and call it a weekend. But I'm no IPO expert -- what do you think?
schlettie
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schlettie,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/21/2014 | 5:15:53 PM
Congrats
A10's bankers priced the shares fairly for their investors and didn't low-ball them to benefit the bankers' cronies.
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