Okta rings the bell on IPO as shares soar

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

The cloud tech IPO landscape has arguably stalled in recent years with the M&A landscape heating up alongside it – but one company looking to buck that trend is identity and management provider Okta, who officially rang the bell today after going public last month.

According to CNBC, the company’s shares went up 37% in the aftermath of its public debut, trading at around $23.

“We’re proud that today is Okta’s first day as a public company,” a statement from co-founders Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest said. “We’re all familiar with the Okta saying ‘always on’. That includes today, the day of our IPO, and each day that follows. It speaks to the mission-critical nature of our products, and acknowledges the trust that we must build with our customers every single day.”

The company’s introduction, as per its S-1 form published on March 13, details its customer base – more than 2,900 customers in over 185 countries, with 20th Century Fox, Adobe and LinkedIn among the standouts – and its cloud-centric focus.

“We believe that we have the opportunity to serve the identity needs not just of the largest companies, but of organisations of all sizes that want to safely and securely move to the cloud,” the note explains under ‘our opportunity’. “We estimate that there is at least an $18 billion global opportunity to serve organisations of all sizes by providing an integrated approach to managing and securing all of their internal identities.”

Back in February, a report from Byron Deeter, of Bessemer Venture Partners, argued the ‘state of the cloud’ was in flux last year, but has since roared back. 2016’s IPOs in the cloud space – Apptio, Blackline, Coupa, Everbridge, and the standout, Twilio – represented the lowest figure since the financial crisis of 2008. Yet the various M&A activity alongside that suggested a serious amount of work going on underneath: Microsoft buying LinkedIn;, Oracle buying NetSuite, and so on.

Okta was notably one of the original cloud-based investments made by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). In a post on the venture capital firm’s blog, Ben Horowitz wrote that Okta has become “the cloud identity company” (emphasis theirs). “Through relentless hard work, determination and ingenuity, they defeated their startup competitors and fulfilled their original vision.”  

According to the S-1, Okta’s revenue grew to $85.9 million in the 2016 fiscal year, putting alongside it net losses of $76.3 million for the same period. 

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