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Avast: Making Tons of Money From Free Software

Dec 22, 2011, 12:58 pm EDT

In 1988, researcher Pavel Baudiš wrote a program to kill a computer virus. Realizing it could be the foundation for a set of technologies, he teamed up with Eduard Ku?era to create the ALWIL cooperative. But it wasn’t until a year later — after the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia — that they could create a new company, Avast, that would be able to seek profits.

Since then, Avast has turned into one of the world’s top antivirus software operators. And yes, it wants to go public. The underwriters include UBS Investment Bank (NYSE:UBS) and Deutsche Bank Securities (NYSE:DB).

Avast’s business is based on the “freemium” model. That is, the company has a free version of its core software. Avast then generates revenues by cross-selling premium products. Read 

Software Vet Offers 3 Truths of the Cloud

Dec 21, 2011, 12:41 pm EDT
Software Vet Offers 3 Truths of the Cloud

Andrew “Flip” Filipowski is among the top business software players in the game.  During the 1980s, he created the largest software company, Cullinet, and then went on to lead Platinum, which was sold to CA (NYSE:CA) for $4 billion.

But Filipowski hasn’t stopped.  His latest company is SilkRoad, which is a Web-based software (the so-called cloud) operator that’s focused on human resources and performance management.  The company has raised $94 million.

As should be no surprise, Filipowski has some interesting views on the tidal changes in business technology. Here are his “three truths of the cloud”: Read 

3 ‘Boring’ 2011 IPOs Worth a Look in 2012

Dec 21, 2011, 7:30 am EDT
3 ‘Boring’ 2011 IPOs Worth a Look in 2012

Investors often focus on IPOs by the most cutting-edge companies. After all, wouldn’t it be great to find the next Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) or Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)?

Yet as we’ve seen this year, these types of whiz-bang companies can be extremely risky. Just look at the post-IPO plunges by Pandora (NYSE:P) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). Even the profitable Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) saw its stock price fall 10% in its first two days of trading.

Some of the biggest gains by recent IPOs can be found in mundane industries. This has been the case with companies like Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), both of which found ways to innovate long-standing markets. Read 

It’s Tough to Beat Venture Capitalists’ IPO Returns

Dec 20, 2011, 12:40 pm EDT

In Tuesday’s New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin points out something that never seems to change: Despite all the regulations and so-called investor protections, the IPO game is rigged.

Sorkin looked at the Zynga (Nasdaq:ZNGA) IPO, which was a disaster for retail investors.  We warned against buying this IPO, but many investors who jumped in, just like they did with other hyped deals like Pandora (NYSE:P) and Groupon (NYSE:GRPN).

Of course, many big-time Wall Street players have done just fine.  Zynga’s lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), even had a double-dip on the deal. It earned over $10 million on the IPO and also probably scored millions from a private placement in February (the actual amount has not been disclosed). And the investment bank is likely to reap even more fees going forward from secondary offerings as well as acquisitions. Read 

Longtime Tech Leader Reflects on IPO Era Changes

Dec 19, 2011, 1:05 pm EDT

Lee Chen founded A10 Networks in 2004 with a vision to create new technology for networking and security equipment.

Since then, the company has grown at a torrid rate and is putting pressure on rivals like F5 Networks (Nasdaq:FFIV). In fact, Silicon Valley Business Journal reported that A10 Networks is the second-fastest-growing private company in Silicon Valley. It has more than 1,200 customers and key relationships with Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) and VMware (NYSE:VMW).

But this isn’t Chen’s first breakout company. During the roaring 1990s, he co-founded Foundry Networks, which turned out to be one of the era’s hot IPOs. Read 

‘Angry Birds’ Maker May Turn to Hong Kong IPO

Dec 19, 2011, 11:45 am EDT
‘Angry Birds’ Maker May Turn to Hong Kong IPO

Last week’s IPO by Zynga (Nasdaq:ZNGA) was supposed to be a big day for the social-gaming space. But it turned out to be a disappointment as the stock has fallen by 10%, wiping out $1 billion in market value.

In light of this, other game companies may find IPO opportunities are better outside of the U.S. markets. Just look at Rovio, creator of the highly successful “Angry Birds” franchise. According to a report in Reuters, the company may want to go public in Hong Kong.

This exchange has attracted other hot offerings this year. These include Prada, L’Occitane and Samsonite. These are some of the world’s top brands, so why not one from the digital world? Read 

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