Newly public Arista Networks isn’t the most exciting company around, but its cloud networking platform is used by giants from Citigroup to Facebook, so it must be doing something right. Wall Street seems to agree, as the company’s share price has risen 35 percent since opening $43 this morning. The company raised more than $226 million in capital and now sports a market cap of $3.7 billion.
The decade-old company is profitable and, according to Bloomberg, has the second-highest valuation of any data-networking company. (Ruckus Wireless has it beat.) Not bad for a company that hasn’t raised a cent in venture capital. Now that it has gone public, Arista hopes to compete with larger rivals like Cisco, and $226 million could certainly give an already profitable company the additional fuel it needs to do just that.
Perhaps the quarter-of-a-billion dollars might also allow the company to forget that it led to a new wave of “We’re in a bubble!” cries from Fortune editor Adam Lashinsky, who was offered some friends-and-family shares after writing a profile about the company for the magazine. As Lashinsky recounts in his blog post about the wildly inappropriate (and declined) offering:
During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early aughts, a colleague of mine at the San Jose Mercury News got into hot water for accepting a ‘friends and family’ share allocation. (She contended that the CEO who offered her the shares was indeed a friend. I had and have no reason to doubt her assertion, which was and is beside the point.) When times are so good that executives are willing to disregard the difference between ethical and unctuous behavior, it’s just one sign that the end, relatively speaking, is near.
Even if there isn’t a bubble — and many aren’t convinced that there is — offering a financial journalist the opportunity to get into the ground floor of an IPO should be enough to make any company blush. (If countries are allowed to consider companies citizens I’m allowed to give them anthropomorphic qualities, so please keep your “Companies can’t blush!” arguments to yourselves.) Having a successful IPO despite that negative press ought to relieve some of the stress for Arista Networks. Let’s just hope other companies don’t get any ideas.
I can see it the now: companies electing to offer journalists shares in their public offerings, knowing full well that it will leak but deliberately courting the negative press simply to draw attention to decidedly “un-sexy” businesses. That might not be proof of a bubble either, but it will certainly prove right all of the people who think that techies are out of their goddamned minds.