It’s been a good day for Therese Tucker.
She just broke a glass ceiling as the first woman founder/CEO to lead a venture-capital-backed Los Angeles startup to an initial public offering, according to The Los Angeles Times’ Paresh Dave.
And it’s been a very respectable IPO at that.
BlackLine, which offers cloud accounting software, increased its IPO price on Thursday to $17, above an initial target range of $13-$15.
On Friday morning, the shares opened at $24.52, a 44% pop. The stock was trading at around $23.31 midday, giving the company a $1.15 billion market cap.
BlackLine had planned on raising about $100 million, but with the increase in share price it raised $146 million.
‘Difficult and humiliating and scary’
This is an epic success for Tucker, who founded BlackLine about 15 years ago and struggled mightily in its early years. She thought she would wind up bankrupt, she told Business Insider.
“I funded the company up until 2013, and there were some very difficult times,” she said. “I ended up putting in everything that I had into it. First the nest egg from my options from my previous company. But then I drained my bank accounts and my 401(k). I told my kids, had I been able to access their college savings funds, I probably would have taken that, too. I second-mortgaged my house. I maxed out my credit cards. I begged from friends to cover payroll.”
“It was difficult and humiliating and scary. I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to be a woman in my 40s who’s bankrupt and starting over,'” she said of the years through about 2005.
The turning point happened in 2007, when the idea of cloud computing was very new. She and her team decided to quit making old-fashioned software and sell the service exclusively through the cloud.
“It was a very scary decision back then,” she said.
Remember 2007? That was the year the first iPhone was released. Amazon Web Services was only one year old. Adobe wouldn’t make the same decision for six more years, and it was still controversial for Adobe, too.
But it turned out to be an incredibly smart move. When the economy tanked in 2008, companies no longer wanted to buy big, expensive accounting software. They wanted affordable cloud software, paid monthly.
Business picked up so much that by 2013, BlackLine was bringing in $38 million in revenue, and the private-equity company Silver Lake Sumeru invested, buying a majority stake for $220 million, according to PitchBook.
Tucker stayed on as CEO and continued to pour her heart and soul into the company. But she never had to worry about personal bankruptcy again, she says. And she can’t say enough about Silver Lake Sumeru as a partner.
By 2015, BlackLine’s annual revenue was $83.6 million, with a net loss of $10.8 million.
In the first six months of 2016, revenue was $55.6 million, with losses growing to $16.9 million.
Tucker still owns about 13% of the company — or 6,372,000 shares that, at $23, are worth $146.6 million.
This is another successful tech IPO in a year that has seen few public offerings. But investors are clearly warming up to IPOs again.
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