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Qlik planning an IPO, files application with the SEC

The vendor plans to return to the public markets with an initial public stock offering after being taken private in 2016 when it was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

Qlik on Jan. 6 revealed that it is planning an initial public stock offering.

The analytics vendor, founded in 1993 and based in King of Prussia, Penn., was a publicly traded company from January 2012 until August 2016, when it was acquired by private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo and taken private.

At the time of its acquisition, Qlik's stock was valued at $30.50 per share. Thoma Bravo, which is based in Miami and currently has about $70 billion of assets under management, bought Qlik for $3 billion.

In 2021, Thoma Bravo acquired data quality vendor Talend. The holding company owns 66 tech vendors.

Qlik unveiled its planned return to the public markets by confidentially submitting a draft registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In its statement, Qlik did not propose a number of shares to be offered or a potential price range for its stock.

In addition, no timetable was given for the IPO. The SEC must first complete a review process, and Qlik noted that the potential IPO remains subject to market and other conditions.

The statement did not come as a surprise. Analysts noted that Thoma Bravo frequently acquires companies and over the course of time either positions them to go back on the public markets or sells them to another parent company.

"It was clear when it went private five years ago that it was likely to go back to the market or get acquired within around five years -- a typical investment horizon for Thoma Bravo," said Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research.

A sample grid chart from Qlik.
A sample Qlik grid chart shows an organization's sales data.

He added that the timing for Qlik's return to public trading is similar to that of Informatica, a data management vendor that was acquired by private interests in 2015 and taken private before raising $841 million in an IPO in late 2021.

Similarly, Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said the five-year timeframe between Qlik's acquisition by Thoma Bravo and planned IPO is typical.

During that time, the holding company was able to position Qlik for its IPO by updating Qlik's products, improving customer satisfaction and retention and developing better predefined operational and financial metrics, he noted.

"Thoma Bravo has been on a roll and this is one of their flagship investments," Wang said. "They've run their playbook on Qlik. The Qlik team has done well and now they are ready to emerge on the public stage."

Most importantly, Thoma Bravo helped Qlik transition to the cloud over the past five years, according to David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research.

Thoma Bravo has been on a roll and this is one of their flagship investments. They've run their playbook on Qlik. The Qlik team has done well and now they are ready to emerge on the public stage.
Ray WangFounder and principal analyst, Constellation Research

"It appeared that part of the motivation for going private was to be able to transition to the cloud without constant scrutiny of the public markets," he said. "So, as Qlik has successfully transitioned its product line to a cloud offering, it's no surprise that they are reentering the public market with an IPO."

What Qlik plans to do with the potential influx of capital an IPO would bring remains to be seen.

The vendor has already been an aggressive acquirer over the past few years, buying up smaller vendors including Podium Data in 2018, Attunity in 2019, Blendr.io in 2020 and Big Squid in 2021. Each added capabilities -- for example, data management with Podium and automated machine learning in the case of Big Squid -- that have helped Qlik expand its platform.

Presumably, Qlik could use the additional capital to fund more acquisitions. But analysis of those potential acquisitions stands to be more intense once Qlik is public again, Menninger cautioned.

"Access to the public markets is a double-edged sword," he said. "It provides access to capital and a measure of independence from its current private equity backers, but it also means they will be under the watchful eye of investors and financial analysts."

As for how an IPO might affect customers, Menninger said not much, other than perhaps having more information about Qlik.

"It's probably not a big change for customers," he said. "Qlik appeared to have the backing of its investors to continue to improve its products and expand its portfolio. One benefit for customers is the transparency that public markets provide. Organizations will have access to information they wouldn't have had access to previously."

Qlik's potential IPO comes at a time when investors are placing significant valuations on data and analytics vendors.

But it also comes at a time when the stocks of data and analytics vendors are well off their highs.

Data cloud vendor Snowflake set a record for technology companies by raising $3.4 billion in its IPO in September 2020. Informatica raised $841 million in its return to the public markets. And Databricks raised $1.6 billion in venture capital funding in August 2021.

However, MicroStrategy's stock is trading at less than half of its 52-week high -- though five times more than its value at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domo is similarly near its 52-week low, but more than four times its value at the start of the pandemic. Snowflake is down about 25% from its 52-week high, and Informatica is barely above its IPO price of $29 per share.

"There's lots of money out there, for sure, but the most recent IPOs aren't faring as well," Henschen said.

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