New Relic’s CEO Lew Cirne has been open about considering an IPO for New Relic for awhile now. It appears that time is getting closer than ever, as the company brings on a new board member who is known for helping prep startups for their IPO: Peter Currie.
After the struggles consumer-focused Zynga and Facebook faced after going public, investment firms are eyeing B2B companies like never before according to research firm CB Insights. CB Insights predicted that 80 percent of companies to go public in 2013 would be enterprise serving companies, and New Relic fits the bill. It gives companies’ developers an analytics platform – i.e. a way to visualize how well different aspects of their site is performing.
When it came time for Cirne to consider beefing up his board for an IPO offering, he asked his chairman Peter Fenton who would be the best person to lead the process. Fenton told Cirne that Peter Currie was by far the perfect candidate, but warned him it would be a long shot because “he gets asked all the time.” Currie was the key player in Netscape’s extremely successful IPO and spent time as a temporary financial advisor to Facebook’s board before it went public.
He is also on the tumultuous board of Twitter, and CEO Dick Costolo has raved to us about him. As a Twitter investor and board member, Peter Fenton has been able to watch that dynamic up close. Currie is one of those man behind the men in Silicon Valley who eschews the limelight, but is a sought after consigliere.
“It wasn’t like we did a broad search with six candidates,” Cirne said today on the phone. “We just said, ‘Let’s try to get the best guy we can get,’ and we were lucky enough to get Currie.”
In February, Cirne told Venture Beat that he would not raise another funding round before going public — IPO was next on his agenda. With the addition of Currie to the board, New Relic has checked off all the pre-IPO boxes: It raised an $80 million private equity round, strengthened their revenue for a strong, initial IPO offering, and brought on an advisor with public offering experience to get the company ready.
Of course, that doesn’t mean an IPO is imminent. Cirne isn’t saying, but he did tell me that it’s not gonna happen before the end of 2013. In his opinion, finding Currie was a crucial step. Now, the company will focus on recruiting further board members to help it go public. At the moment, there’s only four of them: Peter Fenton, Peter Currie (“We’ll have to start calling them by their last names to keep them straight,” Cirne said), Lew Cirne, and Dan Scholnick of Trinity Ventures.
“The worst thing we could do is rush out for the sake of rushing out,” Cirne said.
Cirne oversaw the acquisition of his first startup, Wily Technology, in 2006 to CA, Inc. — a company that has since sued New Relic for patent infringement. I asked him whether his decision to go public with New Relic was a reaction to what he learned in the Wiley acquisition. “It was and it wasn’t,” Cirne responded. He doesn’t look back with regret, but he does feel like he left things unfinished.
With New Relic, Cirne said, “I love my job, I love who I work with and what we do. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing for the next decade. So it’s by necessity that we have to think – if it keeps growing and succeeding, of course it has to be public.”
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