So much for fears about the flash-storage market. Nimble Storage (NMBL) boomed in its IPO on Friday, rising 60% above its initial public offering IPO price. This morning the rise continued, with shares climbing an additional 6.5%. Shares are around $36, 70% above Friday’s IPO price of $21.
On Friday, Nimble sold 8 million shares at $21, raising $168 million at a valuation at a valuation of about $1.5 billion, but today its valuation is close to $2.4 billion. Nimble opened at $31.10 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Friday and closed at $33.93.
The price range on the IPO had already been ratcheted up several times during last week, indicating the deal was hot even though the prices of other recent IPOs in the flash-storage market, including Violin Memory Inc. (VMEM) and Fusion-IO (FIO), have collapsed. In particular, Violin’s meltdown just months after its September IPO has been particularly ugly.
But Nimble may be different, even though the company has yet to show profitability. It provides a hybrid storage solution that combines flash storage with more traditional disk drives, using to software to determine the most efficient storage medium.
One of Nimble’s investors, Sequoia VC Jim Goetz, wrote a blog talking about Nimble’s chutzpah to take on storage giants EMC and NetApp with a hybrid flash.
“The venture graveyard is full of startups that have taken on the primary-storage market,” wrote Goetz. “… [Nimble] proposed building a primary-storage system that incorporated flash, a much bigger opportunity, but a far riskier one.”
Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, Nimble’s largest investors, each own stakes now valued at around $450 million.
The Rayno Report wrote about the developing flash market in September, shortly after Cisco paid about $450 million for flash-storage provide Whiptail. That deal raised eyebrows, because Whiptail was not considered a leader, with some VC sources suggesting that Cisco didn’t want to pony up for a more expensive player — possibly Nimble?
It’s clear that despite the struggles of companies such as Violin, Silicon Valley investors are still very optimistic about the emerging flash market. Startup Pure Storage recently received $150 million in funding. There is no doubt that flash wave, which represents a big technology shift in storage, is going to change the market enormously.
In its filing with the SEC, Nimble says it has 1,300 customers and reported that revenues have increased 700 percent and 280 percent, respectively, in the past two years.
But the company is still burning cash. In the first three quarters of 2013 it reported a loss of $30 million on revenues of $84 million.
With its recent IPO and juicy multi-billion valuation, the market has declared Nimble the best-of-breed player in the next-generation storage category.