Big Rounds for Ping Identity, SolidFire Top Colorado Q3 Tech Stories

The summer of 2013 was full of good news for technology companies in Colorado, with two raising very large VC rounds to finance their progress toward possible IPOs, one sizeable exit for a mobile game developer, and lots of promising signs for startups in Boulder and Denver.

Ping Identity IPO Bound. People in Colorado’s startup community are a little self-conscious that while a number of successful tech startups have emerged from Boulder and Denver, not many of them have stayed independent long enough to become public companies.

Rally Software Development’s (NYSE: RALY) initial public offering in April was the first software company IPO in years, but there are a handful of companies that look to be in a position to follow them in the next year or so.

One of them is Ping Identity, a network security company that specializes in identity access management. In July, Ping Identity closed a $44 million Series F round, and CEO Andre Durand said his company is now on track for an IPO in the next year or so.

Ping Identity now has raised about $90 million during what Durand calls its “10- or 12-year overnight success story.”

SolidFire Heats Up. Compared to other startups that have launched in Boulder over the past five years, SolidFire keeps a low profile. But there’s no overlooking it after the company announced in July it closed a $31 million Series C round.

SolidFire makes data storage systems that are based on solid-state drives. The company claims its drives are both the largest and fastest, and investors have high hopes for the company—SolidFire has raised $68 million since it was formed in 2009. The recent round was led by Samsung Ventures.

The company is the latest Colorado company to get a foothold in data storage technology, and it looks set for the next generation of networking and storage. SolidFire’s key markets are providers of public cloud services and enterprise clients that have their own private cloud.

Game Changer for Backflip Studios. Colorado has seen a few companies get acquired this year for more than $100 million. The latest was Backflip Studios, a mobile game company based in Boulder.

Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) paid $112 million in cash for a 70 percent stake in Backflip Studios. As part of the deal, Backflip will remain in Boulder and develop its own games as well as games based on Hasbro’s extensive number of brands.

Backflip’s record has been impressive. Its games have been downloaded 300 million times and have more than 30 million active users per month, according to the company. In 2012, its DragonVale title was the top grossing iPad app and fourth top grossing iPhone app.

Early Stage Startups See Results. The good news wasn’t limited to big buyouts or funding deals for only a few leading startups.

VictorOps, which was founded by former Lijit CEO Todd Vernon, closed a $6.5 million Series A round in September. The company is building tools that DevOps teams can use on the Web or on mobile devices to identify and fix IT infrastructure problems. VictorOps is less than a year old and just emerged from stealth mode.

The team at TapInfluence doesn’t yet have Vernon’s track record, but it has been able to tap into a strong network of local angel investors to raise a total of $9 million over the past few years, including a $5 million Series B round that closed in September. TapInfluence makes software that helps brands and advertisers run influencer marketing campaigns.

Techstars also celebrated a first, as GoodApril became the first company to be acquired before reaching the startup accelerator’s demo day. The startup made tax planning software before it was bought by Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU), maker of the TurboTax tax preparation software, for an undisclosed price.

Startup Week Success. Finally, Denver Startup Week returned for its second year, following its impressive debut with a bigger and better follow up.

The six-day event was devoted “to celebrating everything entrepreneurial in Colorado,” and it featured more than 125 events that ranged from networking at craft breweries to small workshops discussing programming techniques or HR policy. Organizers estimated more then 5,000 attended at least one event.

The event drew on a lot of grassroots support from local companies, and members of the businesses establishment like the Colorado Technology Association and Downtown Denver Partnership provided help with raising money and coordinating the sprawling event. They were also able to attract a high-profile sponsor in Chase, which donated $150,000 to support the Startup Basecamp on the 16th Street Mall the served as the event’s nerve center.

It all made for a very hectic and fun week, and hopefully the momentum will carry over into the 51 weeks before the next event.



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