- SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon says he intends to stage an IPO for his company.
- “If it has enough cash it has the ability to weather any storm,” he says.
- He sees Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as a model CEO for a publically traded company.
Tech CEOs are often pretty cagey when you ask them if they will take their companies public. They don’t like to give away corporate strategy as a rule, they prefer to keep their options open, and staging an IPO can be a total nightmare of red tape, lawyers, short-term thinking, and unwanted media scrutiny.
Going public might be good for investors. But it’s usually a headache for CEOs.
Not so for Gaurav Dhillon, CEO of SnapLogic. The company gives companies that run multiple different types of software, on their own premises and in the cloud, an easy way to make them all talk to each other seamlessly – or “snap” together, to use the company’s parlance. And Dhillon can’t wait to get his enterprise cloud-software-integration platform to its IPO.
“Yes, I would like to do that,” he told Business Insider at Web Summit, the big tech conference held every year in Lisbon. “When a company becomes public it gives the company ever-lasting life, in a sense. The company’s public, it shares a listing in the proper way on the stock exchange, and if it has enough cash it has the ability to weather any storm.”
Dhillon knows whereof he speaks. He took his last company, Informatica, public in 1999. It was later acquired back privately in a deal worth $5.3 billion (£3.9 billion). He spent five years running it as a publicly traded stock.
Dhillon declines to say what the current valuation of SnapLogic is, but there seems to be some sort of consensus that it is a “unicorn,” meaning it is valued over $1 billion (£752 million). The San Mateo, California, company has taken $136 million (£102 million) in total funding from VC investors and has 300 employees globally.
“I know what I’m getting into,” he says. “The truth is it’s not about the listing, or the timing of it, or the wealth creation of it, it’s about creating that sense of security to the other 3,000 or whatever companies on the globe who are not yet customers of ours.”
But surely a company only gets that security if the stock goes up?
“True that. And you will see that no company ever has a stable stock price its whole life. Markets fluctuate, you know. My joke is you go from having one product to having two products: Your product and your stock price. So all of a sudden you become product manager of a stock price. But nevertheless, if it’s done right it provides a capitalisation, it provides a durability of that enterprise. And also it sheds light on the workings of the company, that are actually good for it for the long term. If done right.”
To get an idea of how Dhillon thinks a public company ought to be run, he says looks at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whose stock is flying even though the company – infamously – usually runs at a loss.
“How did he do it? If done right, it does work. Jeff proves it every day. Every four or six quarters they will check in,” he says, meaning that the company will show a surprise profit on the bottom line just to remind investors that they can do it if they want to. “It’s not that you’re not building a business, working hard, or responsibly. It’s that you’re investing in your business. But every four to six quarters, what the management team at Amazon does is they check in. They flash up the shorts. And boy, do they get it on the shorts. Bam!”
“They will produce a surprise amount of profit just for that … to show that they’re in control.”
So when will he pull the trigger?
“You know it’s not tomorrow, it’s going to be when we’re good and ready,” he says. “I’ll tell you when we’ll do it: We’ll do it when we have multiple products figured out, we’ll do it when we have multiple geographies figured out, and we’ll do it when we have bench strength in our management team. Any time all those three things are true, we will do it. But we’re not going to do it based on just pure economics, or we can do it now, we should do it. But we won’t do it on need.”