Snowflake: a very special IPO

The price of US technology company Snowflake, which floated last week, shot up by more than 150% at one point during the first day of trading.

The initial public offering of US technology company Snowflake last week was the equivalent of “yet more cases of champagne arriving at a party well after midnight when the guests are already several sheets to the wind”, says Robert Cyran on Breakingviews. The share price shot up by more than 150% at one point during the first day of trading. Even though shares subsequently fell back a bit, the company is now worth $63bn, compared with the valuation of just $12bn implied by a private funding round earlier this year.

It’s no surprise that investors – which include Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway – are enthusiastic about Snowflake, says Dan Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal. The firm’s cloud-based software “allows enterprises to rapidly analyse business information faster than traditional database software”. Revenue has “grown by an average of 141% on a year-over-year basis over the past four quarters”. Still, its “stratospheric valuation” will force Snowflake to keep up a “blistering pace” if it is not to disappoint. Even if the business continues to grow at the current rate over the next 12 months, it will still trade at “more than 70 times forward sales”.

The big question is whether Snowflake’s “nosebleed” valuation heralds a runaway shift in market sentiment, says Richard Waters in the Financial Times. It is “hard not to see at least some similarities with the dotcom era”, especially the obsession with “total addressable market” instead of sales or profitability. A new tech bubble might be good for Palantir, which uses similar technology to Snowflake. After years of “dithering about whether or not to go public”, Palantir’s shares will soon start trading in a direct listing.

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