Two online companies' IPOs bode well for Seattle's tech biz scene

Apr 22, 2011

"Initial Public Offering," or I-P-O, is a buzz term that was talked about a lot in the boom years of the late 1990s – especially in Seattle, where lots of high-tech startup companies were thriving at that time.  They've been pretty scarce lately.  But they may be coming back.

An IPO is when a privately-held company gets big enough to sell its shares on a public stock exchange.  This week, the online real-estate site, Zillow.com, filed the documents necessary to start the process.  And word is that another high-tech darling, the online casual gaming company, Popcap Games, is getting ready to go public in the next few months as well.  

Is the IPO dry spell over?

Columnist John Cook, the co-founder of a Seattle-based technology news site called Geekwire, has been writing about deals such as these for about a decade now.  He says, after a long draught, it's exciting to see two very distinct Seattle companies scaling up for an IPO.

"The market has really heated up, in terms of the amount of capital and the amount of interest for some of these fast-growing technology companies.  And Seattle hasn't had as many of these successes in recent years.  And so Popcap and Zillow to some degree represent the promise and hope of the Seattle technology industry."

Cook says it's true that these startups aren't anywhere near the size of really big on-line brands, such as Facebook and Twitter, which are also talking about going public soon.  But he says it's good to see these Seattle companies at the point that they can consider going public.  He also says that Zillow and Popcap Games have very different lines of business and contrasting patterns of growth, which indicates a healthy environment for innovation in Seattle.