Pre-IPO Anxiety

It is 2:30 pm on Wednesday March 26th. In a couple hours I’ll be huddling with some of my TriNet Board members to get results from the just completed roadshow. This will include reviewing the order book reflecting demand from institutional investors to buy TriNet shares at tomorrow morning’s scheduled Initial Public Offering.

Throughout today I’ve been getting emails and text messages from family and friends congratulating me on the IPO. I appreciate their thoughts but most are not aware that at this very moment I am on edge with anxiety, haunted by memories of having been at this stage once before.

You see TriNet’s first IPO filing was way back on March 2, 2000 – the absolute peak of the dot com era. At that point we were a $30 million revenue company that was bleeding cash. But since this was at the height of the bubble, and we had an entire customer base of dot com companies, ours was an IPO story with lots of sizzle.

A long SEC clearance process delayed our roadshow until October 2000. By then, investor appetite for all things dot com completely evaporated.

We nonetheless went through the grueling IPO roadshow and then got to this very point of pricing the deal to find there simply was not enough orders to IPO at a price that would make sense for the company.  So we aborted the IPO, remained private and amidst rapidly declining sales then proceeded through a painful rebuilding process that lasted two agonizing years.

The TriNet of 2014 is a very different picture from where we were in that dot com boom and bust period. But that vivid memory of my prior pricing day is so imbedded in my mind that throughout our current IPO effort I’ve mentally taken the outlook of “it ain’t over till it’s priced.”

The moment of reckoning is fast approaching. I’ve not responded to the slew of inbound congratulatory messages and probably won’t do so till after our first day of trading. Presuming that is, that we do trade.

Call me overly cautious, conservative or whatever. But I can’t bring myself to celebration mode until we get through this meeting and confirm that there is a big enough base of investors ready to put their dollars into the company. When that happens, it will be a validation of the market’s belief in our prospects for growth.

Let’s get on with it!