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Snowflake IPO Cleans Up on NYSE

The cloud vendor minted three new billionaires, doubled its expected market cap and achieved a new Wall Street ranking.

Kelly Teal

September 16, 2020

5 Min Read
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After a “flurry” of first-day trading on Wednesday, the much-anticipated Snowflake IPO now ranks as the largest ever in the software world.

The cloud data warehousing vendor’s New York Stock Exchange debut proved volatile and fascinating. Late Tuesday, California-based Snowflake planned to open at $120, 50% higher than the midrange of its original proposal. Instead, trading kicked off at $245; that was more than double the expected amount. Shares reached a peak of $319 before jumping up and down throughout the day, finally landing at $253.93 at the closing bell.

All in all, Snowflake sold 28 million shares and came out of Wednesday’s trading with about a $73 billion market cap.

Analysts had been projecting a $33 billion-$34 billion market cap.

As CNN Business pointed out before Snowflake’s IPO soared into the stratosphere, a $33 billion market cap would make the cloud vendor worth more than Bank of New York Mellon, Hershey, Allstate, Walgreens and Travelers. At the $73 billion mark, Bloomberg said Snowflake now is more valuable than Dell Technologies or General Motors. And the company was only founded in 2012.

Not only did the Snowflake IPO outdo all others so far in the software industry, it also stands out as the second-largest in 2020, after Pershing Square’s Tontine Holdings. That IPO raised $4 billion.

And three key Snowflake investors surely aren’t complaining. CEO Frank Slootman, ex-CEO Bob Muglia, and cofounder and CTO Benoit Dageville all are now billionaires, as Forbes noted.

Investors Get Rich

They aren’t the only investors who came out strong on the Snowflake IPO. Salesforce and Berkshire Hathaway did, too. Snowflake said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week that each of those giants has committed to buying $250 million in Snowflake stock. Berkshire also intended to buy 4 million more shares from Snowflake’s former CEO in a private transaction, according to The Motley Fool. The Warren Buffett-backed company was to pay the IPO price. That promised to bring Buffett’s total Snowflake investment to more than $500 million.

Legendary investor Buffett did better than expected, however. CNBC reported at 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday that Buffett made about $1 billion off of Snowflake. This reflected a philosophical shift on Buffett’s part. As CNBC reported, Buffett hasn’t put money into a newly public U.S. company since 1956, when Ford held its IPO.

Regardless, it’s now up to Snowflake to show investors it can live up to their high hopes. While the company more than doubled its revenue over the past six months (to $242 million), it still posted a net loss of $171 million. That alone makes it an atypical investment for Berkshire Hathaway, which prefers to funnel money into profitable firms. Still, Snowflake’s traction with customers may be one reason why Berkshire took a relatively safe bet. Snowflake recently told the SEC it has more than 3,100 clients, twice the number from a year ago. Of that, 146 qualify as Fortune 500.

The company trades under the symbol “SNOW.”

The company last month filed its intent to go public, hoping to raise $100 million.

It raised …

… $3.36 billion.

The Database Industry Responds

No surprise, the action-packed Snowflake IPO made a stir throughout the industry on Wednesday.

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MemSQL’s Raj Verma

“This an exhilarating time for the database industry,” said Raj Verma, co-CEO of MemSQL. “As this IPO demonstrates, if a company has great technology and executes well, good things happen. More importantly, this development underscores a significant change in thinking about the increasing importance of the database market. Data has never been more important than it is right now.”

Verma called the entrée of Snowflake onto the public market a “changing of the guard.” For more than 20 years, IBM, Oracle and SAP HANA have ruled the database roost. But now, customers have new options, he said.

“The technology of yesterday will not solve the data challenges of tomorrow, and this IPO brings newer technology solutions to the forefront,” Verma said. “I predict that we will see billions of dollars of investments in the space and more than seven to 10 really strong database companies grow significantly in the next decade.”

The head of enterprise backup vendor Clumio agreed with Verma’s sentiments.

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Clumio’s Poojan Kumar

“Snowflake took the cloud playbook, rewrote it and won,” said Poojan Kumar, CEO and cofounder of Clumio. “Snowflake transformed the old-school data warehouse into a cloud data platform and completely changed the way companies do business today — and its customers have felt the biggest benefit with huge cost savings and productivity increases with faster access to their data. Companies that can use the playbook correctly will emerge as winners, while those that don’t will lose.”

Snowflake rival Yellowbrick Data called the Snowflake IPO “a definite win for our industry.”

“This IPO validates that the market for data warehouses is large and growing,” said Yellowbrick CEO Neil Carson. “Yellowbrick and Snowflake share a common vision that data warehouse modernization is important and a top priority for businesses grappling with formidable economic, social and customer behavior changes.”

As for the impact on the indirect channel, partners likely can expect Snowflake to spend more money helping them land customers.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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