Eyeing Future IPO, A Rarity for SD Software Firms, Tealium Adds $55M

San Diego has had plenty of businesses go public in recent years, but most have been life sciences companies.

Now software startup Tealium, which has about 215 employees at its San Diego headquarters, announced Wednesday it has added $55 million in a Series F financing. Eleven-year-old Tealium has now hauled in more than $160 million in venture capital, and is prepping to become one of the region’s first big tech companies to go public in over five years.

Silver Lake Waterman, a fund within the private equity giant that specializes in providing growth capital to later-stage tech companies, led the round.

The last big year for tech IPOs in San Diego was 2012. That year, ServiceNow, an enterprise IT management software company, raised $210 million in its market debut, then promptly decamped to Silicon Valley. Peregrine Semiconductor (now pSemi), since acquired by Murata, also tapped the public markets in 2012, netting $77 million.

Digital businesses in different industry sectors, including financial services, healthcare providers, and retailers, use Tealium’s products to aggregate and integrate customer data from various points across an organization, such websites, mobile apps, devices, servers, and files for a comprehensive view.

Doug Lindroth, Tealium’s CFO, says the funds will allow the company to expand its ecosystem of data integration tools and accelerate the development of new products: “More touchpoints, more connections both inward into our platform, which is really what drives a lot of the value, as well as connections on the outbound side, leaving the platform and taking action and making sure that customers’ data can flow freely from coming in to going out as well as throughout the organization.” It will also fuel its expansion domestically and worldwide.

Lindroth said the company is prepping for an IPO, although no timeline has been set.

“It’s definitely something that we’re considering and planning for,” he said. “We don’t have any definitive time frame, but it is certainly something that we are planning and preparing for.”

Dutch bank ABN AMRO, Bain Capital, Declaration Partners, Georgian Partners, Industry Ventures, Parkwood, and Presidio Ventures also invested in Tealium’s latest round.

Tech IPOs have been making headlines recently. Companies such as Pinterest (NYSE: PINS), Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT), and Uber (NYSE: UBER) have gone public in the past few weeks, with the latter two ride-sharing pioneers seeing disappointing initial results on Wall Street.

San Diego, though, has endured something of a tech IPO drought since the ServiceNow days. A few small companies have debuted, including Airgain (NASDAQ: AIRG) in 2016, which raised $12 million, and Escondido, CA-based One Stop Systems (NASDAQ: OSS), which pulled in $19 million last year.

However, the region is home to large tech companies that could, as soon as this year, be positioned to go public, according to Ernst & Young’s Tim Holl, an audit partner in San Diego.

“If you go back over the last three to five years it’s not that we haven’t had any tech companies, it’s that a lot of them have been acquired through private equity transactions, which has limited the public markets,” he said.

While the number of IPOs and volume of proceeds in the first quarter was dampened by the partial government shutdown, more than half the businesses that went public during that period were in life sciences. That augurs well for San Diego, which has historically been strong in the sector, Holl said.

“From the perspective of who did get out, of the 22, 13 of them were life science companies, so that does bode well for San Diego,” he said. “As long as there’s appetite for this life science window, we’ll continue to see companies trying to access those public markets.”

Outside of San Diego, though, the IPOs that are drawing the most attention are those of massive tech companies. That could be auspicious for local firms considering entering the fray.

“I think it helps the overall market and the market enthusiasm and the success of those may help them make their decisions as to when they may want to do it,” Holl said earlier this year of local tech companies that are considering raising public funds.

It’s too soon to say how recent underwhelming offerings—that of Uber in particular—and the nascent trade war with China will factor into companies’ IPO considerations.

Another local software company that’s anticipated to make a big IPO splash is Seismic, which late last year brought on board a ServiceNow alum as its CFO and hauled in a Series E round of $100 million. Then, CEO Doug Winter told Xconomy the company would be prepared to go public by late 2019.

It’s not quite a Lyft/Uber situation, since Seismic and Tealium aren’t direct competitors, but there are debates in the local tech community as to which will make its debut first. The hope, of course, is that those who make out well from such an event would reinvest in the San Diego tech ecosystem.

“[An IPO] would hopefully free up the founding team to help mentor and advise a lot of other companies, and possibly even have the ability to be investors in early-stage companies,” said Neal Bloom, a local entrepreneur, angel investor, and startup community organizer. “It’s not just a check, but someone who can help with advice, opening doors, and more.”

Sarah de Crescenzo is an Xconomy editor based in San Diego. You can reach her at sdecrescenzo@xconomy.com. Follow @sarahdc

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