Top 10 Upcoming Tech IPOs of 2013 and 2014

From Dropbox to Hubspot, here’s our speculative preview of the Top 10 Tech IPOs of 2013 and 2014.

The coming year should prove to be a very active time for tech IPOs. There are numerous online companies that have recently experienced substantial growth and they seem to be gearing up to go public within the next twelve months, so without further ado here’s our speculative preview of the Top 10 Tech IPOs of 2013 and 2014:

Dropbox IPO

Dropbox is considered one of the world leaders in cloud-based data storage. It is a free service that allows you to access your documents, photos, and files from anywhere with internet access. Dropbox was originally popular with design professionals and consumers who needed to transfer and store large files, but they announced several new features in February that are aimed more at business clientele. Dropbox has already established a solid base of active users which currently exceeds a hundred million people. It also boasts that 95% of the top Fortune 500 companies are using Dropbox daily. This tech company has recently experienced around $4 billion in growth and is expected to be headed towards IPO in 2013.

Square IPO

Square creates applications that can transform smartphones into payment-processing devices. The company allows participants to accept credit cards through their mobile phone, and they can easily turn an iPad into a register that will also accept credit card payments. This is an ideal solution for businesses that conduct deals outside of a regular office space. A Square IPO is predicted to be one of the largest Initial Public Offerings in 2013. This relatively new company has experienced approximately $4 billion in growth, and their recent partnership with Starbucks has amplified its end-of-the-year valuation to an estimated $5.5 billion.

Twitter IPO

Twitter is a leading social media platform that has experienced some significant growth in the past few years. Users can express themselves, promote their businesses, or comment on current events publicly using 140 characters or less. Well-known tech leaders like Google, Dell, and Comcast use Twitter regularly to launch new products and advise customers on technical issues. Twitter has over 500 million registered users, although approximately only 200 million are actively Tweeting every day. There are clear signs that Twitter will be going public in the beginning of 2014, and this initial offering would value the company at more than $10 billion dollars.

SurveyMonkey IPO

SurveyMonkey is a cloud-based survey development company that assists customers in collecting over 1.5 million online survey responses every day. Last year there were 14 million users, approximately 360,000 customers who paid extra for enhanced features, and 65 million monthly online visitors. SurveryMonkey’s revenue last year was an impressive $113 million, and that is estimated to increase by more than 40% this year. The CEO, Dave Goldberg, claims he is against going public and recently received funding from Google to prevent it from happening, but insiders insist that it is only a matter of time before SurveyMonkey goes public.

Eventbrite IPO

Eventbrite is a website that assists organizers in planning large events. It allows users to setup ticket sales, promote events on social media sites, and even offers post-event reports for organizers to reference. Eventbrite currently has 20 million users and are expected to reach $1 billion in event ticket sales this year. The company is growing quickly and actually doubled their ticket sales since last February. The company decided in April to postpone an IPO, but many analysts feel it is inevitable. Eventbrite is currently valued between $600 and $700 million and recently raised $60 million in growth funding from T. Rowe Price and Tiger Global Marketing.

SugarCRM IPO

SugarCRM is a software company that produces a customer relationship management (CRM) system available for both open-source and commercial applications. The program currently has sold 11 billion downloads and recently announced the introduction of a more social version called Sugar 7. Sugar 7 was designed with better activity news feeds that are fully CRM integrated. This will offer businesses real-time information about every deal, account, and contact. SugarCRM has benefited from a 67% increase in customers and currently has $79 million in funding, which includes a $33 million dollar boost in April. Their CEO, Larry Augustin, announced at the end of 2012 that their goal was to become a public company and many investors forecast this will take place within the next few months.

Spotify IPO

Spotify provides streaming music on your computer or tablet, your mobile phone, and your home entertainment system. It allows you to download songs for offline use, share songs and playlists with your friends, and even lets people work together to create collaborative playlists. At the end of 2012, Spotify had 20 million active worldwide users, which was up 33% in less than six months. It also has 5 million paid subscription users that can listen to the music without any interruptions from commercials. The company has recently signed a partnership agreement with Ford to provide its music services in their vehicles. Spotify has also recently revamped its iOS and Windows 8 apps to inspire further growth. These are all solid signs that IPO will occur in 2013.

Zendesk IPO

Zendesk is web-based software that offers customer service solutions for big businesses. It raised sixty million in September of 2012 and provides online customer support to approximately twenty-five thousand enterprises. It is estimated that through these businesses, Zendesk currently serves around seventy-five million different clients across the world. Zendesk recently announced an iPad app with a new reporting dashboard and customer history feature that allows performance to be monitored from anywhere. Based on Zendesk’s growth and innovation, it should come as no surprise that they have been dropping several hints that an IPO could happen in 2013.

Hubspot IPO

Hubspot is comprehensive and integrated marketing software that combines social media, blogging, analytics, email, and automation into one convenient package. There are currently over 8,000 companies in fifty-six countries that use Hubspot to create inbound marketing to attract, nurture and convert leads into revenue. This tech leader has also developed the popular website analysis tool, MarketingGrader.com, which has over three million users and grades more than a quarter million companies each month. HubSpot benefited from 82% growth in 2012 and has an estimated valuation of $52.5 million. Hubspot recently raised $35 million in new funding and many people feel it is a likely candidate for IPO in 2013.

Box IPO

Box offers cloud-based file sharing and content management services for many large global companies like Skype, Pandora, Panasonic and LinkedIn. In fact, it is currently being used by more than 150,000 companies across the world to connect online workspaces and simplify their online file storage process. Earlier this year, Box agreed to acquire Crocodoc which is another web-based document sharing and embedding service. This is a clear sign of growth and the potential to go public. Box is valued at approximately $1.2 billion, and it is expected to pursue IPO valuation once it reaches closer to $3 billion.

The unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2012

From Facebook to Twitter to Groupon, the planned tech IPOs in 2012 could be among the most exciting string of new public companies in years.


Social games maker Zynga is one of dozens of highly-anticipated planned Tech IPOs in 2012.

The tech IPO pipeline is officially clogged. Renaissance Capital claims there are 330 IPOs (across all industries) in the IPO pipeline looking to raise $180 billion. Renaissance predicts that capital raised from 2011 IPOs could fall 36 percent shy of last year’s $39 billion. Should the market recover, 2012’s IPO market will be massive, and there are lots of great tech companies eager to raise capital. Here’s our unofficial 2012 tech IPO calendar…


360Buy.com IPO (Jingdong Mall). One of the largest business-to-consumer sites in China, 360Buy.com often draws comparisons to Amazon. Revenue was expected to hit $4.4 billion in 2011. Expect that keep climbing as online sales in China rose 77 percent in China last year. See our post 3 reasons to invest in the 360Buy.com IPO (Jingdong Mall) for more.


58.com IPO. China’s largest Craigslist-like online classifieds site, 58.com filed for an IPO on June 20,2011. The site makes money by charging a small fraction of its posters for premium-placement on the site.


Angie’s List IPO ($75 million+). Angie’s List lets paying subscribers read reviews of local businesses and contractors. The company’s something of an anomaly in the fast-paced world of tech start-ups as it’s now in its 16th year of operation. During that time, Angie’s List has accumulated a database of more than 2.2 million reviews (per CNN) and has more than 800,000 paying members.


Alibaba’s HiChina IPO ($200 million+). A subsidiary of Alibaba.com Ltd., HiChina Group Ltd.’s something like GoDaddy.com. The company offers domain names, hosting accounts and website building tools for small businesses in China. An IPO will help finance expansion into new businesses including email and website design (per WSJ).


Bazaarvoice IPO ($85 million+). You’ve probably seen or used Bazaarvoice’s software without realizing it. The company sells its code to online retailers (like Best Buy and Macy’s), so those retailers can pull in online reviews of the products they sell. Bazaarvoice is expected to generate $64.5 million+ in revenue this year, and CEO Brett Hurt claims the company could stop expanding now and immediately become profitable.


Brightcove IPO ($50 million+). Brightcove offers a cloud-based video serving platform for paying customers. All told, they serve up some 700 million video streams a month (second only to YouTube) for more than 3,300 clients (per GigaOm). Unfortunately, the business doesn’t reap a huge amount of revenue. Brightcove will likely book somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million in revenue this year.


Eloqua IPO ($100 million+). Eloqua makes it easier for large Web sites to run and analyze marketing campaigns. Specifically, the company’s analytics software allows businesses to predict how much revenue marketing campaigns will generate.


Facebook IPO. Now boasting more than 800 million registered users, Facebook’s IPO will rank among the largest IPOs of all time. The latest media reports peg Facebook’s IPO date as sometime late in 2012. Interestingly, though, SEC rules will require the company to start making public its revenue, profits and losses in April 2012 (since the company’s total number of shareholders now exceeds 500).


Gilt Groupe IPO. A flash-sales site that offers temporary discounts on luxury goods, one of Gilt Groupe’s smaller competitors (HauteLook) was recently acquired by Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) for $180 million. Contrast that with the much larger Gilt Groupe where revenue alone is expected to hit $500 million this year.


Groupon, Inc. IPO ($750 million+). A series of pre-IPO missteps may push Groupon’s IPO to 2012. The Chicago-based daily deals email marketing company generated $688 million in revenue during the first half of 2011. See our post 3 reasons NOT to invest in Groupon’s IPO for more.


Guidewire IPO ($100 million+). A 10-year-old company that develops technology for the insurance industry, Guidewire’s services help streamline claims by processing them online. The company generated revenue of $144.7 million in 2010. That was good for net income of $15.5 million. Guidewire will IPO under ticker symbol GWRE.


Jive Software IPO ($100 million+). Jive creates social networking software for corporations. And it counts some major companies among its clients – including Nike, Cisco and Toshiba. Revenue from each of their customers averages a whopping $7,874 a month (per OregonLive). See our post 3 reasons to buy shares in a Jive IPO (Jive Software) for more.


LivingSocial IPO ($1 billion+). In light of the recent turmoil in financial markets, LivingSocial has temporarily shelved IPO plans. The company is instead fishing around for private equity (per Bloomberg). The daily deals site faces a lot of competition in Groupon and Google, which recently purchased restaurant-review company Zagat and German daily-deals site DailyDeal.de.


MobiTV IPO ($75 million+). A video provider for mobile phones, MobiTV has contracts with all the major telecoms: AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Their software gives mobile users the ability to download video or watch it on-demand via their phones. Of course, the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile could drive down revenue at the company. An IPO could help them expand internationally. See our post 3 reasons NOT to invest in the MobiTV IPO for more.


Qunar.com IPO. A China-based travel search site, Qunar’s majority-owned by China’s largest search engine, Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU). Qunar’s already a Top 100 site in China, and I expect the backing from Baidu will cement Qunar’s position as the leading travel site in China. See our post Qunar IPO: 5 reasons to invest in China’s travel site for more.


SecondMarket IPO. The rumors haven’t started flying about a SecondMarket IPO yet, but the company did start listing its own shares on its Web site. SecondMarket provides a marketplace for high-net-worth individuals and institutions to invest in private companies.


Trulia IPO. An online real estate search and marketing company akin to Zillow Inc. (NASDAQ:Z), Trulia announced IPO plans in February 2011. The site’s been doubling revenues year over year and has an estimated value of $700 million (per Inman).


Twitter IPO. Look for a Twitter IPO late in 2012 or early 2013. The ubiquitous micro-blogging site now claims 100 million active users. Questions remain about the company’s business model, but Twitter’s reach offers some tantalizing possibilities. See our post Twitter’s secret key to making money for more.


Vancl IPO ($1 billion+). An online-only clothing retailer in China, Vancl’s advertising campaigns blanket the Internet behind the Great Firewall. It seems to be working, too, as the company targets price-conscious consumers. Vancl comes from good pedigree, with the company’s founder, Chen Nian, having sold his last venture, Joyo.com, to Amazon. Joyo has since morphed into Amazon.cn.


Yelp IPO. Yelp provides local reviews for businesses and restaurants. According to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, the company gets 63 million unique monthly visitors who add more than 1 million new reviews to the site every month. Yelp’s been particularly successful with its apps. The right partnerships could drive revenue growth for the company moving forward.


Zynga IPO ($1 billion+). Zynga, which makes social-networking games for Facebook, iPhones and Androids, is tentatively planning to IPO in November 2011. Don’t be surprised if Zynga’s IPO date gets pushed back to 2012, though. The company’s has perhaps the best financials of all the company’s on the list. As of March, the company held nearly $1 billion in cash and was generating cash flow of $104 million per quarter (per Fortune). See our post 8 facts about Zynga before the IPO for more.


Interesting 2012 non-tech IPOs: U.K. soccer team Manchester United.

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Crowdcube: How to invest in tech startups

Crowdcube.com gives investors the opportunity to invest as little as £10 ($16.40) in private tech start-ups long before they’ve hit the IPO stage.

There’s something infuriating about getting locked out of investing in high profile tech companies like Facebook and Twitter by virtue of being too broke. If you’ve got a net worth of $1 million or more, you’re more than welcome, though, to sign up to buy shares in Facebook and Twitter via secondary exchanges like SecondMarket.

A small UK-based Web site is trying to change that with last month’s launch of Crowdcube.com. The site gives UK investors the opportunity to pony up as little as £10 ($16.40) to invest in private tech start-ups and small businesses long before they’ve hit the IPO stage.

“We want to enable people to have a real share – real equity in the business,” Luke Lang, one of Crowdcube’s co-founders tells GrowthBusiness. “We want to make investing open to everyone so that the ordinary man or woman in the street can invest in a limited company.”

Crowdcube takes Kickerstarter.com, which allows individuals to contribute cash to creative projects in exchange for gifts or recognition, a step further by offering up the real deal: equity. Prospective investors can peruse fully-developed, vetted business plans and video pitches as well as interact with entrepreneurs in Crowdcube’s forums before deciding to invest.

Pretty snazzy. As of today, there are 13 start-ups soliciting investments on Crowdcube. They range in scope from an online auction software developer to a mobile advertising company and a “Fairtrade certified bodycare products” manufacturer.

The business plan that has me most excited, though, is Crowdcube’s itself. The company’s currently waiving its £250 ($410) listing fee for entrepreneurs. If a start-up hits its funding goal, Crowdcube skims 5 percent off the top in addition to a £1750 ($2,871) legal fee. A lot of 5 percent cuts could quickly add up if Crowdcube hits critical mass. Now, I just wish the site would offer up equity in itself for early-stage investors.

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Ad.ly: Mastering how to make money on Twitter

Entrepreneurs are often obsessed with coming up with the next big business idea, especially in the tech realm. Ad.ly’s success monetizing tweets on Twitter is proof that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

While Twitter may not have a bullet-proof business plan yet, other companies have figured out how to mint money off their service. Ad.ly – a tiny marketing boutique based in Beverly Hills – inks contracts with celebrities who agree to send out marketing tweets on the company’s behalf. In exchange for pimping products, the celebs get paychecks that range from $200 to $25,000 per tweet.

How does Ad.ly make money?

1) Marketers who want to promote a product approach Ad.ly to launch a social media marketing campaign.

2) Ad.ly helps marketers pick 12 to 50 celebrities from the company’s stable of 1,000+ public figures to promote a product or service on Facebook and Twitter.

3) Ad.ly writes content for tweets that will appear on Twitter and/or status updates that will show up on Facebook.

4) Celebrities sign off on the content written by Ad.ly.

5) Ad.ly sends out the tweets and/or Facebook status updates – typically with a link back to the product or service a marketer wants to promote.

How much do celebrities make on Ad.ly?

That depends on the clout of the celebrity, but according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, anywhere from $200 to $25,000 per tweet.

How much do marketers pay for Ad.ly’s services?

$25,000 on the low end and more than $100,000 on the high end. To date, Ad.ly’s most successful campaign had Charlie Sheen advertising Internships.com’s services on Twitter. Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh didn’t divulge the cost of the campaign, but he did say it was “the highest amount ever paid in the company’s history.”

“I’m looking to hire a #winning INTERN with #TigerBlood. Apply here – http://bit.ly/hykQQF #TigerBloodIntern #internship #ad,” Mr. Sheen tweeted on March 7. Forty-eight hours later Internships.com was inundated with more than 74,000 applications for the position.

The moral?

Entrepreneurs are often obsessed with coming up with the next big business idea – especially in the tech realm. Ad.ly’s success is proof that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The start-up just piggy-backed on the success of Twitter and Facebook while carrying celebrity endorsements into the 21st Century. They’re getting rich in the process, too.

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LinkedIn IPO just got sweeter

As the LinkedIn IPO approaches, the company appears to be trying to re-brand itself as something more than a glorified networking hub for the unemployed, and that’s good news.

Linkedin.com – a social networking site for professionals – is trying to sweeten the pot before the company’s IPO by adding a social news function to the site. Dubbed LinkedIn Today, the news aggregating service works by pulling in links to articles and blog posts a user’s connections have shared. The theory goes that the news your business associates are reading is probably the same sort of news you’re interested in reading, too.

The gambit is well-timed to boost traffic to a site that’s already the 12th most-visited site in the U.S. (per Alexa). More traffic = more advertising revenue and that should help drive up investor interest before the company’s IPO.

[Related: 3 reasons to buy LinkedIn shares during IPO]

As of the end of 2010, LinkedIn had more than 90 million registered users and attracted about 65 million unique users to its site each month. Facebook, by comparison, has more than 500 million users, and Twitter claims 190 million. If LinkedIn Today catches on, it could significantly drive up pageviews and the amount of traffic the site receives.

Right now, LinkedIn Today is still in beta, and it’s not readily apparent when you log in. You’ve got to hover over “More” in the site’s nav bar and click “News” to get to it, but it’s easy to envision that the feature could get integrated with the site’s landing page when users log in. If the feature gets more prominent play on the site, it very well could give professionals a reason to return more frequently.

[Related: The unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2011]

LinkedIn itself warned that a “substantial majority” of its members don’t visit the site on a monthly basis in its IPO filing. That means there are a lot of dormant LinkedIn profiles out there. After all, the site’s appeal is strongest for job-seekers, and the happily employed have little reason to spend time networking on Facebook, Twitter AND LinkedIn. Still, LinkedIn appears to be trying to re-brand itself as something more than a glorified networking hub for the unemployed.

In unveiling the new feature (and a number of other tools), Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, said he wants the site to become users’ “professional profile of record” – one that helps people who are hunting for jobs and helps people perform their existing jobs.

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JPMorgan tries to get in before Twitter IPO (JPM)

Wealthy investors will pay just about anything to invest in Facebook and Twitter. JPMorgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) are finding ways to make it happen.

Shortly after Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) announced it was selling $1 billion in Facebook shares to its foreign clients, news leaked that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was raising cash, too, for its so-called J.P. Morgan Digital Growth Fund LP. A few weeks later, the Digital Growth Fund is sitting on a treasure chest filled with $1.2 billion. And it’s looking to deploy that cash for stakes in late-stage, pre-IPO social media companies.

Twitter sits in the crosshairs. Negotiations are ongoing, but it sounds like JPM’s pushing for a minority stake in Twitter, which could value the site at $4.5 billion, according to the Financial Times.

Talk about a steep valuation. Debra Williamson of eMarketer estimates Twitter could generate just $150 million in revenue in 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. Compare that to Facebook, which could generate as much as $4 billion.

With a valuation around 100 times the company’s revenues, JPM will probably lobby for Twitter to put itself up for sale. A partnership with a site like Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) could give Twitter the cash and time it needs to roll out a viable, long-term business model. And no one suggests such a thing will be easy.

While Twitter’s got 175 million “registered accounts,” eMarketer believes that only 16 million or so of those accounts are actually active. Still, it’s difficult to put a price-tag on a site that’s among the Top 10 most-visited Web sites in the world (per Alexa). It shares that honor with Web superpowers like Baidu.com, Youtube.com and Google.com.

Twitter’s reach makes it difficult to slap a pricetag on, even if the site’s “only” generating $150 million a year. The fact of the matter is, investors probably won’t care. The hottest companies in the tech sphere are all privately-owned. And we all want a piece of something the rest of the public can’t touch. Wealthy investors will pay just about anything for that honor, and JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are finding ways to make it happen.

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Three reasons why I’d buy stock in a Spotify IPO

So long as Pandora and Apple cling to models that provide a sub-par user experience, I’m betting all my chips on Spotify. Now, let’s just cross our fingers that an IPO is in the works.

The debate over the future of the streaming music industry has me depressed. Executives, it seems, are incapable of divining what listeners want out of the music industry. I’ll try to distill it down: we want a Netflix for music. We don’t want a download-driven iTunes for music. We don’t want a custom-radio radio station (ala Pandora or Slacker) for music or a cloud-based music storage system. We want a subscription-based service that gives us access to millions of songs that we can listen to on demand.

The only company that seems to have figured this out is Spotify – a Swedish start-up that’s reportedly nearing a $100 million financing deal with venture capital tech titan Digital Sky Technologies (DST). DST’s well-known for investing in late-stage start-ups that are nearing an IPO. They own 10 percent of Facebook, for instance. They were in early on Zynga and Groupon, and now they’re ready to give Spotify a war chest as the streaming radio company looks to move into the U.S. market.

Here are three reasons why I’d buy stock in a Spotify IPO:

1) Spotify gives us full control. Lets be honest here. Part of the reason I use Pandora is because I’m too lazy to spend time transferring music onto my iPhone. I just can’t be bothered to deal with the multi-gig folders full of music I’ve built up over the years. If I can access what I want to hear when I want to hear it, I’ll pay for it. I don’t necessarily like Pandora’s model, but it’s easy. There’s just one glaring problem: Pandora doesn’t let you play specific titles or albums. You type in a song or artist you like, then get a “custom radio station” that plays similar music and – every now and then – the actual song or artist you wanted to hear in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve discovered some new bands I love (and probably wouldn’t have found any other way) while using Pandora, but they’re still leaving up that last little hurdle that’s infuriating: the inability to play a specific track. Spotify’s model gives us what’s missing in the streaming music industry: full control.

2) Subscriptions save me money. If Spotify’s music catalog is good enough when the company launches in the U.S., I’d be more than happy to fork over $15 a month to gain access to millions of songs. In essence, users would get an entire music store of albums for the cost of a single CD. This is precisely like the Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) model; the model that brought down Blockbuster. If I were renting DVDs from a brick-and-mortar store at $5 a pop rather than streaming movies from Netflix, I’d easily be spending $50 or more a month.

3) Subscriptions offer steady revenue. The beauty of Spotify’s model comes from a long-term base of steady revenue – something most tech start-ups are lacking (i.e. Twitter). Lets say Spotify snags 20 million subscribers (Netflix’s total) at $15 a month; that’s good for $3.6 billion in revenue every year. That kind of money will buy you a lot of bandwidth and give you a whole lot of cash to use while negotiating deals with record labels.

So long as Pandora and Apple cling to models that provide a sub-par user experience, I’m betting all my chips on Spotify. Now, let’s just cross our fingers that an IPO is in the works.

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Will we ever see a SINA Weibo IPO?

A Weibo IPO would draw lots of attention and probably lots of dollars. With an estimated 120 million users, Weibo still trails Twitter by some 50 million accounts, but the size of China’s Internet market leaves ample room for growth.

One of the biggest growth stories out of China right now is SINA Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SINA) Twitter-like micro-blogging site, Weibo. Rumors surfaced during Q2 2010, that SINA might spin off Weibo (pronounced Way-Bwah) with a $100 million investment from search giant Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) and B2B giant Alibaba. Such a move would turn Weibo into an independent company and likely fill the company’s coffers on the strength of a speculative IPO.

The odds of that happening seem scant, though. SINA’s counting on Weibo to fuel the company’s growth. Known predominantly as a Web portal company similar to Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), SINA’s been focusing on transforming itself into a social networking site that can tap into a network of outside app developers.

“Weibo is the best opportunity for Sina to transform into an Internet platform,” Ma Yuan, a Beijing-based analyst with Bocom International Holdings Co, told PeopleDaily.com last week. “It is becoming the next killer application on the Internet and mobile phones.”

It’s undeniable, though, that a Weibo IPO would draw lots of attention – and probably lots of dollars. With an estimated 120 million users, Weibo still trails Twitter by some 50 million accounts, but the size of China’s Internet market leaves ample room for growth.

SINA’s shares have priced in a $2 billion valuation on Weibo, according to Goldman Sachs analyst Catherine Leung. In Leung’s mind, that valuation’s steep, as Goldman downgraded SINA’s shares from Buy to Neutral.

I’m not sure I agree. The recent news that Twitter raised capital on valuations around $9 billion makes SINA’s stock look attractive.

Weibo currently dominates China’s micro-blogging industry controlling 87 percent of the market share in the niche. It operates much like Twitter, allowing users to post to the site online or via text message. Posts are limited to 140 characters, as they are on Twitter, but Chinese characters typically allow users to express more with fewer characters. Weibo’s also made significant improvements on Twitter’s model by allowing users to post replies to Weibo “tweets” and upload video and images.

SINA acts surprised when pressed on rumors that Weibo might spin off and IPO on its own. Pen Shaobin, VP of SINA and GM at SINA Weibo, denied rumors that Baidu and Alibaba are looking to invest in Weibo: “It is pure rumor,” he was quoted as saying on DoNews.com.

Interestingly, there was no mention or denial of an IPO in Weibo’s future, but I just don’t see it happening. It’d be like Apple spilling off its iPad division. Weibo’s too integral to SINA’s future to be sold off for a lump sum when the future gains look so promising. Don’t set aside cash waiting for a Weibo IPO, buy SINA shares instead. You’ll probably be better off.

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Twitter’s revenue growth on par with Facebook’s

Of the companies I’ve been following on my unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2011, Twitter’s still something of an underdog.

Of the companies I’ve been following on my unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2011, Twitter’s still something of an underdog. Only 8 percent of Americans profess to use the service, and that could mean 92 percent of the population doesn’t understand what Twitter does or how it works. Why then would they want to invest in it?

And yet, Twitter’s ad sales “are following a pace of growth similar to that of Facebook,” EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson tells FastCompany. Revenue at Twitter, in other words, is on pace to rise 300 percent in 2011 to $150 million. By 2012, the company could be generating $250 million.

Those are estimates, of course, but I expect Twitter to impress a lot of investors. The company is rumored to be at work on a DIY ad network that will open its ad platform to smaller businesses (something that Facebook and Google already do effectively), and I’ve written in the past about what I see as “Twitter’s secret key to making money.” If they can effectively partner up with the millions of Web sites out there that serve “Twitter Widgets” on their pages, their advertising reach will expand exponentially, and that just might justify their recent $3.7 billion valuation.

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The unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2011

From “A” to “Zynga,” here’s an unofficial list of 23 tech companies that, according to rumors, will IPO in 2011 or 2012.

After a few terrible years for IPOs, some exciting technology companies look like they’re ready to step up to the IPO plate in 2011 or 2012. Here’s an unofficial list of 23 tech companies that – according to rumors from the Wall Street Journal and TechRice among other sources – might go to market this year or next:

star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small 58.com IPO? China’s for-profit version of Craigslist.org, 58.com’s got a robust user base. A recent browse through the site’s classified ads in Beijing showed more than 1.2 million listings for people looking for roommates – and that’s just in one city! The site ranks 34th in online traffic in China, according to Alexa.com.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small 360buy.com IPO? The third-largest online retailer in China, 360buy.com just secured a nice chunk of change from Wal-Mart. They got more than $500 million in all. As I wrote previously, 360buy.com controls 2.5 percent of the e-commerce market in China. That may not sound like much, but that’s more than 3.5 times the e-commerce marketshare enjoyed by competitor China Dangdang, Inc. (NYSE:DANG).

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Demand Media IPO? A content factory that uses an army of freelancers to churn out “How To” articles, Demand Media has turned the written word into a commodity on eHow.com. All told, eHow produces enough text to fill more than four English language Wikipedia’s every single year. And their so-called “evergreen” articles aren’t pegged to specific dates, so they’ve got a very long shelf-life of search-engine friendly content that’s perfectly suited for advertisements.

Update: Demand Media IPO’d on Jan. 26, 2011 under ticker symbol DMD. Check out my latest post on the company: Will Demand Media’s (DMD) stock recover from Google shock? Absolutely.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Facebook IPO? I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said about Facebook, except this: they’re the only Web-based company in U.S. that’s positioned to truly challenge Google in the coming years. As they expand into search, virtual goods, e-commerce and mobile, Facebook seems to be taking over the internet. Indeed, the site currently accounts for 25 percent of ALL pageviews in the U.S. Even with a $75 billion+ valuation, Facebook still looks cheap to me.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Groupon IPO? Groupon’s found the holy grail of online marketing: a simply way to marry coupons and local businesses. To use it, just give Groupon your email address and they send you a daily offer from a local business. If you like the offer (which is often a coupon or gift card that’ll save you 50 percent or more at a local restaurant, hobby shop, etc.), you can buy the coupon, print it out and redeem it anytime before the expiry date. The company’s already rejected a $6 billion buyout offer from Google, and they’re in the early stages of expanding into China. The only problem? Google’s got Groupon on their hit list now, and an all-out war is probably in the making.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Hulu.com? A streaming video site with backing from media heavyweights like News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), and NBC Universal, Hulu claims to be operating at a profit with 2010 revenues around $260 million. The company’s biggest competitor is streaming giant Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), which now has a market cap of $9.6 billion.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Jiayuan IPO? The leading online dating site in China, Jiayuan’s the 55th most-visited site in China, and it boasts at least 25 million members. The company makes money by charging for memberships (about $6 a month for a “Diamond Membership”), selling virtual currency and other romantic add-ons. Jiayuan has attracted capital from New Oriental Education & Technology Group (NYSE: EDU) among other investors.

Update: Jiayuan shares started trading on May 12, 2011 under ticker “DATE” on the NASDAQ. Check out my latest post on the company: Jiayuan.com IPO: 3 reasons to invest in Chinese dating site.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small LinkedIn IPO? A social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn boasts more than 90 million members from around the world. The company lacks the sex appeal of some of the other tech IPOs on the docket, but it does seem like its network might be easier to monetize than, say, Twitter, since it can capitalize on hiring solutions, advertising aimed at professionals and premium landing pages.

Update: LinkedIn IPO’d on May 19, 2011 under ticker symbol “LNKD.” Check out my latest post on the company: 3 reasons NOT to invest in LinkedIn IPO.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small LivingSocial IPO? The biggest and most well-known Groupon competitor, LivingSocial offers daily deals from local and national retailers. LivingSocial got a big boost when it announced that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) was investing $175 million in the company. Soon after, LivingSocial offered its members a $20 Amazon gift card for just $10, and they netted both companies more than $13 million up front in the deal.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Nuomi IPO? An ultra-deep discount coupon site, Nuomi’s fighting for attention in what will soon be a very crowded market. Still, they’ve got decent ownership in Oak Pacific – the parent company of “China’s Facebook”: RenRen. And they’ve got a decent idea: do as Groupon does. The company sells coupons online for a limited time. At least one theater owner who partnered with Nuomi was thrilled with the results: “I’d say this is a miracle,” producer Lei Zile told the Global Times last July. “I’ve talked to older producers about this and they all said it was a miracle in the history of stage plays. 100,000 tickets were sold in one day. You could call it encouraging.”

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Pandora IPO? An online music streaming site, Pandora grew out of the Music Genome Project, which attempts to categorize music based on more than 400 variables. Using that information, Pandora can build “custom” radio stations after you’ve entered a song or band that you like. The site’s enjoyed a big surge in popularity with wider-spread adoption of smartphones that allow streaming music anywhere, anytime. Despite the fact that Pandora shelled out more than $30 million in royalties in 2009, the company still managed to make its first profit that year, netting some $50 million. In 2010, profits were estimated to be around $100 million largely on the strength of premium ad-free streaming accounts and partnerships with car manufacturers that are installing Pandora direct from the factory.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Qunar IPO? An online travel booking site in China, Qunar’s Web traffic is pacing Ctrip.com’s (NASDAQ:CTRP). Both companies operate in the same niche, but Ctrip’s more well known in the West since its IPO came in 2003. Since 2003, shares in Ctrip have risen more than 750 percent. Competition in the sector seems to be heating up as Tencent Holdings, Ltd. (HKG:0700) recently invested in 17u.com, another Chinese travel site that’s currently a distant third behind Ctrip and Qunar.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Renren IPO? A glaring example of the copyright issues that plague China, when RenRen.com launched in 2005 as XiaoNei.com, the site looked like it was an official Facebook product. It even identified itself as “A Mark Zuckerberg Production” at the bottom of its pages. After getting bought out by Oak Pacific Interactive in 2006, the company’s since tried to carve its own niche – and its done well. RenRen.com currently has more than 160 million registered users in China, and it’s the country’s 16th most-visited site.

Update: RenRen went public on May 5, 2011. Shares have collapsed more than 30 percent since then. Check out my latest post on RENN: RenRen IPO: 5 things you don’t know about ‘China’s Facebook.’

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Sunity IPO? A Chinese version of Zynga, Sunity Online Entertainment Ltd. makes Web-based games and will soon start launching mobile apps, according to the AP. The company racked up $9.54 million in revenue in 2010, up from $8.25 million in 2009. Sunity generates 52 percent of its revenue from Qihang (QHG) – a subscription-based cards and chess game, according to Gaming-Hub.com. Another 8 percent of the company’s revenue comes from Han Dynasty Game (HDG) – a free Chinese mythology role-playing game that makes money off the sale of virtual goods.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Skype IPO? Skype’s VoIP services offer businesses and individuals a free or low-cost way to make international calls, host video conferences and shares files online. With the company’s recent $100 million acquisition of mobile video streaming service Qik, it’s clear Skype’s getting aggressive about making a push into the smartphone market.

Update: Microsoft acquired Skype on May 10, 2011 for $8.5 billion.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Taobao IPO? It’s unclear whether or not Taobao will IPO in 2011 or 2012, but it is, hands down, my favorite stock on this list. Taobao controls 75 percent of the e-commerce market in China with it’s psuedo-eBay-style site. There, consumers can buy products from other consumers or businesses at auction or at set prices, although auction-style buying seems to have fallen out of favor on the site. Credit Suisse analysts expect the e-commerce market to more than quadruple in China by 2015, and Taobao will easily be the biggest beneficiary of those gains. They seem to have seen the writing on the wall, too, as the company’s investing $3 billion to $4.5 billion into a warehouse network that will make shipping throughout China more efficient.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Taomee’s 61.com IPO? A Chinese social networking site aimed at children and parents, 61.com has some 20 million users ages 6 to 14, and Forbes reported revenue projections of more than $30 million in 2010. The subscription-based site lets kids hang out in virtual worlds (the Seers for the boys and the Moles for mixed-gender users), and parents are invited, too.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Tudou IPO? While they may be playing second fiddle to Youku.com, Inc. (NYSE:YOKU), video streaming site Tudou.com gets nearly as much traffic. The site’s ranked by Alexa.com as the 11th most-visited Web site in China. Youku.com’s ranked as the 10th most-visited site. Youku’s spectacular November IPO could foreshadow another buying frenzy in Tudou even though its unclear when or how either company will get profitable.

Update: Despite an ongoing legal battle between Tudou’s CEO and his ex-wife, the company appears to be moving closer and closer to an IPO. Check out my latest post on the company: Tudou IPO: Is Tudou stock a buy?

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Twitter IPO? Microblogging site Twitter still isn’t profitable, but it looks like it’s getting serious about making money after staggering valuations put the company’s market cap around $3.7 billion. Twitter appointed its former COO Dick Costolo as CEO late last year, and Costolo’s tasked with ramping up revenues. A report out yesterday by online research firm e-Marketer Inc. estimates the company will generate $150 million in ad revenues in 2011 and $250 million by 2012. I’ve also blogged in the past about what I see as Twitter’s secret key to making money.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small VANCL IPO? An up-and-coming online clothing retailer in China, Vancl.com’s got excellent pedigree in site founder Chen Nian who sold his last project, Joyo.cn, to Amazon. Vancl.com’s focus on clothing has helped it capture nearly 30 percent of all online clothing sales in China, and the company expects its warehouse space to triple by the end of the year. Last year’s sales at Vancl were expected to be up more than 300 percent, according Businessweek.com.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-smallstar-icon-small Yandex IPO? My second-favorite stock on this list, Yandex.ru is likely among the least well-known of the stocks, too. Expect to hear a lot more about Yandex if the company IPOs on the NASDAQ. The leading search engine site in Russia, Yandex claims revenue spiked by 43 percent to $410 million last year. Google holds the No. 2 slot in Russian search engine usage and the American search company posted revenue of some $69 million in Russia in 2009. Yandex.ru is the most-visited site in Russia and the 25th most-visited site in the world, per Alexa.

Update: Yandex IPO’d on May 24, 2011. Check out my latest: Yandex IPO: 5 reasons to invest in Yandex stock.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-small Zhenai IPO? A Chinese dating site, Zhenai.com claims more than 26 million registrations as of August 2010. While the site gets far less traffic than its biggest competitor Jiayuan, Zhenai adds a human touch to the matchmaking process by having trained matchmakers help users find the best possible matches.

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star-icon-smallstar-icon-small Zynga IPO? An online game maker, Zynga’s most famous for its iPhone and Facebook apps Farmville and Cityville. The company boasts a market cap of $5.8 billion on SharesPost. Sound like a lot? At least Zynga’s not having much trouble making money. Zynga likely generated revenue of more than $500 million last year, Lou Kerner, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, tells Dealbook. That’s up from about $300 million in 2009. That’s not bad, especially since Kerner estimates the company has profit margins of some 20 percent.

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