Any Philly Tech IPO candidates this year? Maybe

Tom Paine

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I was just starting this post on potential Philly IPOs and wanted to make a point that at times IPOs come out of the blue, when I read @PhillyJoeD's article on Clarivate Analytics' plans to get listed . and for a minute I couldn't think of what Clarivate was.

It turns out that's the new name for what was known as Thomson Reuters Scientific before it was spun off, which grew out of data and online pioneer Eugene Garfield's Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philly. Back in ancient times, online was a very expensive and limited tool for high-value business and scientific information.

So Clarivate is merging with this investment company, Churchill Investment Corp (NYSE: CCC) and the combined entity plans on being listed on the NYSE. I'm no securities lawyer, but that sounds more like a direct listing than an IPO, or just a symbol change. Anyway, based on the merger agreement the new Clarivate is valued at $4.2 billion.

FMC's spinoff of Livent late last year was also a surprise to many. Its trading at $12.85, down from an IPO price of $17. But its still worth almost $2 billion.

Acknowledging how uncertain it is, I'll proceed to speculate about possible 2019 IPO"s from the Philadelphia area.

  • Fanatics: The most speculation centers on Michael Rubin's Fanatics, which is Jacksonville-based, though it has some operations in Conshohocken, under the roof of Rubin's Kynetic LLC. Fanatics was last valued at $4.5 billion in 2017 when Softbank invested $1 billion. A Fanatics IPO could bring a valuation north of $10 billion.

Other possibities

  • iPipeline: The Exton-based life insurance SaaS firm thought about an IPO before its 2015 buyout by Thoma Brsvo. The most recent revenue figures I've seen are slightly less than $200 million, and its a leader in its segment with an international base.

  • Lutron: Doubt it, but it would be interesting to see what an IPO from Lutron would look like.

    This 2015 article in the Morning Call , shortly after founder Joel Spira's death, indicates how tightly Lutron is controlled by his family. But Lutron broke the mold a bit in 2018 by making a significant acquisition. And in this high-growth market it may need more currency for other deals. But my guess is the company would look to a quiet private equity partner first if it needs capital.

  • InstaMed: This Philly-based medical payments firm has done an outstanding job in developing its niche, and has an army of venture capitalists behind it. Its last public statement on revenue was $31 million in 2015, and it has grown considerably since then. The company told me a couple of years ago that its investors were not pressuring it to go in any particular direction. Though the VCs must be feed sooner or later.

    But InstaMed must balance a complicated web of industry relationships which may define its options. Epic Systems, which bought some iconic artwork from a closing Madison, Wisconsin deli last year, rarely buys anything. But it does have a "unique" relationship with InstaMed . Perhaps one of these years.

  • Billtrust: This Lawrenceville, NJ processor of B2B payments appears to be close to having the scale for an IPO. But maybe next year would be more likely.

  • Bentley Systems: Bentley has considered an IPO at least twice, the latest being in 2015-16. But the minority investment by Siemens, and subsequent opening of trading on NASDAQ's Private Market, provided the liquidity Bentley needed to allow senior employees to cash out some. The Siemens partnership sounds like a possible path to a future buyout.

  • Qlik: It hasn't even been three years since the Thoma Bravo buyout 1n 2016, but Qlik could be close to returning to the public markets. Its long-term market map seems clearer and more compelling, and Qlik will need the growth capital to keep pace with others. An acquisition is also a possibility.

A brief mention for three other possibilities: EvolveIP, BioClinica and Bracket. Guru is one of the best long-term candidates.

Got any other ideas: Email me at or DM on twitter.