By Kirsten Korosec
March 23, 2018

Pivotal, the business software and cloud company that spun out of DellEMC and VMware, filed for an initial public offering on Friday to raise $100 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing comes at an auspicious time for a cloud technology company. The Pivotal prospectus was filed on the first day of trading for Dropbox, an online storage and work collaboration software company. Shares of Dropbox were trading 40% higher than the $21 share price set Thursday evening.

Pivotal was founded by Rob Mee in 1989 as a small software consultancy. The company was acquired by EMC in 2012 and by April 2013 was spun out into a new business, Pivotal Software. The company has raised $1.7 billion in venture funding since 2013, including from General Electric, Ford, and Microsoft.

Here are a few takeaways from the Pivotal Software IPO:

1. Dell Technologies is the company’s largest shareholder (which occurred with Dell and EMC merging in 2016), meaning it will have control over the election of Pivotal’s directors, corporate transactions, and other business matters that require approval by shareholders. Michael Dell, CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, sits on Pivotal’s board.

2. The company is generating revenue. But it’s still unprofitable.

Pivotal has seen its revenue nearly double from $280.8 million in the fiscal year ending in 2016 to $509 million in the fiscal year ending in 2018, thanks largely to its primary cloud development product Pivotal Cloud Foundry. That growth is a sign that companies are interested in building applications to run in their own data centers or rented computing power managed by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Pivotal CEO Rob Mee said last year that Pivotal Cloud Foundry is used by six of the 10 largest carmakers, seven of the top ten banks, and half of the 10 largest insurance companies.

3. But…Pivotal has incurred net losses each year since it formed, although those losses have improved.

  • $282.7 million for fiscal year 2016
  • $232.9 million for fiscal year 2017
  • $163.5 million for fiscal year 2018

That has led to an accumulated deficit of $1.1 billion.

Pivotal said in its prospectus that it expects operating expenses to increase significantly as it hires additional sales, research and development, and other employees, opens new offices, and incurs additional legal, accounting, and other expenses related to being a public company.

The company also operates a consulting service. But the company is focused on building up revenue from subscriptions to its Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform as well. Pivotal had 275 at the end of fiscal year 2017 and 319 subscription customers at the end of fiscal year 2018, the first year in which subscription revenue exceeded its services revenue.

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