(Some) IPOs are back: MobileIron goes public

June 12, 2014, 3:08 PM UTC
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Is the I.P.O. market back for the tech industry? It’s unclear. But that doesn’t concern Bob Tinker, chief executive of mobile device management provider (MOBL). His Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which sells software that helps corporations manage and secure mobile devices, started trading on the public market earlier today, following a months-long slowdown in initial public offering activity.

MobileIron raised about $100 million in its IPO, offering shares of its common stock at a price of $9 per share. But despite the rapid growth of enterprise mobility software—and MobileIron’s top-line growth, which is better than soon-to-be-public rival Good Technology—the space has gotten crowded and the company is not yet profitable.

We caught up with Tinker to find out what his plans are post-IPO.

Fortune: You’re about to ring the opening bell. Why go public now?

Tinker: The first reason is that the enterprsie mobility market is large and growing fast with no incumbents. Our execution has put the business in the position where the company’s ready, and the market’s ready. We believe that now is the time for the company to head to the public markets. We look at it as a strategic choice to access the public markets.

How has the competitive landscape changed in the MDM space? Isn’t this product becoming commoditized? 

I would differ on that–I think that’s a misperception. Enterprise mobility evolved from email and device choice to applications and content. The requirement of enterprise device management has gotten much bigger. And only companies like MobileIron are able to deliver that.

Who keeps you up at night? Who else is able to deliver?

No one keeps us up at night. But I’d say VMware [which owns competitor AirWatch], Citrix and Good [Technology]. And that’s it. MobileIron is the only one that’s purpose-built, that was started to do this. This is one of the things that gives us a core competitive advantage. We are focused on enterprise mobility and we don’t do anything else.

How has the slowdown in the public markets affected your IPO plans?

It hasn’t affected our IPO at all or our schedule. We are actually on the same track we were on when we initially started this process. In the enterprise public market, investors have been more discerning about understanding who has good businesses and I actually think that’s a great thing. But we haven’t changed our plan. I think there are people that would like to create this dramatic perception but that’s not the reality on the ground.

Why are more discerning investors a good thing for you?

We are in the process of building a very valuable company. We’re used to an environment where customers demand best of breed and we love the idea of investors demanding best of breed too. We love discerning investors the way we love discerning customers.

You talked about revenue growth. What about profit?

One of the things about the enterprise mobility market is that we have seen that our early customers that we invested in back in 2010 have become very profitable for MobileIron and that gives us and investors confidence.

How far do you think you are from profitability?

Given that we are now entering the public markets, those are the types of questions that we need to defer to the financial analysts that cover this space.

How does Good’s upcoming IPO change things for you?

We wish them well. The enterprise mobility market is a very, very large market. We are at the cusp of transition from the enterprise world being based on the PC to the enterprise world being focused on mobility.