Meanwhile, iPhone maker Apple has established itself as the world’s most valuable public company _ ever. It hit another all-time high Monday as anticipation builds for Wednesday’s expected unveiling of the latest iPhone.
“We have completely forgotten the bad days at Apple,” says Alfred Chuang, former CEO of software maker BEA Systems and founder of software startup Magnet Systems.
Bankruptcy loomed at Apple in the mid-1990s until exiled co-founder Steve Jobs returned.
Today, Apple boasts a market value of about $630 billion and is riding a wave of culture-shaping innovation that Jobs unleashed with the development of the iPod, iPhone and iPad before he died last year.
Apple’s ups and downs are emblematic of Silicon Valley’s often-turbulent climate, Chuang says.
“But when we see something heading down fast, the next wave can be heading up very quickly,” he says.
Professional networking service LinkedIn, whose IPO preceded Facebook’s by a year, has become the best-performing Internet stock to go public since the start of 2011, according to Dealogic, a research firm. LinkedIn is doing so well that it recently signed a lease to expand into Sunnyvale, Calif., offices spanning 560,000 square feet beginning in 2014. The additional space will enable LinkedIn to add about 3,000 more workers in Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, a slew of unsexy, business-focused tech startups are raising big money from prominent venture capitalists drawn to the companies’ stability and predictable business models.
“Facebook is yesterday’s story. People are looking at the next thing,” says Terry Connelly, dean emeritus at Golden Gate University’s Ageno School of Business in San Francisco.
Some of the best examples include Silicon Valley-based software companies Palo Alto Networks Inc., ServiceNow Inc. and Splunk Inc.
All have seen their value grow by more than half since their IPOs this year, even as IPOs of better-known companies such as Facebook proved to be a disappointment.
The difference? Rather than focusing on consumers whose tastes can be finicky and rise and fall with trends, these three court corporations and government agencies as customers. Palo Alto makes firewall technology that protects computer networks, ServiceNow’s software automates technology operations and Splunk’s analyzes massive amounts of data.
“You can make a lot of money selling stuff that nobody understands,” jokes Ben Horowitz, who went through the first Internet boom as an executive at Web browser pioneer Netscape Communications during the late 1990s. He’s now a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
On average, the 60 technology companies that have gone public since the start of 2011 had seen their stock price increase by 11 percent through August, according to Dealogic. That was slightly better than the 9 percent gain posted by the Standard & Poor’s 500.
Even companies that have seen their market values grow know they can’t afford to slow down.