Technology based companies have always been valued differently by the public and private capital markets. 2016 has shown aggressive pre-IPO valuations of technological companies that are reminiscent of the Dot Com bubble of 2000. There are concerns that they might be too aggressive and cause the market to slip back into a position similar to the turn of the century.
Current pre-IPO companies are more diverse, geographically, compared to 2000. It will be very interesting to see which regions unicorns will remain dominant post IPO. India and China seem to hold an advantage with its combined consumer base tripling that of the United States. It would also be important to note that their e-commerce markets are growing much faster. What has always favored American companies and continues to this day, is their ability to stretch out to the global audience.
Public Tech Companies’ valuations have remained fairly consistent.
In 2000, public tech companies were valued 165% higher than the general market. The valuation of public tech companies averaged 80 times their earnings in 2000. In contrast, public tech companies of today are valued, on average, at 20 times their earnings. We can also observe that they are only valued, on average, 10% over the general market. Amongst public companies, there does not appear to be any significant risk of a bubble. Public companies seems to be much more consistent compared to the private companies
Private tech companies’ valuations have been on the rise.
• The number of rounds of pre-IPO funding has increased
• The average size of venture investments more than doubled between 2013 and 2015
• The market experienced unheard of average deal sizes
• 2015 saw the highest number of deals ever recorded in a year
• Unprecedented increases between rounds of funding
• Committed funds globally rose from 110B in 2012, to 150B in 2015 (highest level ever).
Tech companies are also staying private on average 3 times longer. They are trying avoiding the IPO until accounting profits are made and footings are acquired. This means that at IPO, the companies are larger, more mature, established, and more prepared than ever before.
Since 2000, it appears the market has taken a more conservative look on the valuation of public tech companies. It’s also possible that new start-ups are much more robust and deserving of their high pre-IPO valuations. Any correction now, if needed at all, is likely to seem milder than the correction of the last technology bubble.