When Citrix was founded in 1989, it immediately had two goals in mind. The first was to build a multiuser version of OS/2. The second was to go public so that the stock options would be worth real money and the venture capitalist would be satisfied. This is true of most startup companies funded through venture capitalist. There is this intense need to succeed in a very short period of time.
Sevin Rosen was one of the original venture capitalist groups. They have written up a good overview of Citrix from 1989 to 2001 from a VC point of view. You can find it here. They have classified Citrix as a “Landmark Investment” based on investment versus returns.
Citrix was listed on NASDAQ on December 8, 1995. The stock was originally listed at $15 but by the end of the day it was trading at $30. Citrix employees were ecstatic since all employees had access to stock options. These stock options were essentially worthless until Citrix went public.
Given the roller coaster ride in 1993, this was quite a contrast. To go from the extreme of almost going under to the pinnacle of success in two short years is amazing. In 1995, the time was ripe for becoming a public company. By this time, Netscape had proven that the market was hungry for small technology companies. This was long before the boom/bust of Internet stock in 2001. At the time, no one in Citrix was completely sure going public was going to work. We were all relieved by the end of December 8, 1995 when the market doubled the opening price.
It was interesting that major customers were more comfortable dealing with a public company than a private one. I remember going to computer shows in 1994/1995 and having companies like Chevron say that they would prefer dealing with us if we were listed. It seems to be a confidence thing. If you have succeeded enough to be publicly listed, you have the trust and respect of fellow public companies. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that a public company is fully disclosed and that it is more unlikely to go bankrupt at least by the next quarter. 🙂
If you were to chart the stock price since we went public in 1995, you would find that it has split four times. In those four splits, it is equivalent to 12:1 split. This means for every stock purchased in 1995, it would now be worth 12 shares. The result would be if you bought 100 shares at $15 at IPO ($1500), they would now be worth $38,160 as of today. Not a bad return at all.
I still remember everyone in Citrix going to a local bar and grille after work and watching the announcement on the financial news on the TV. We were all in a bit of disbelief.
Everyone felt a lot more security after the IPO event. The days of scraping by were over and we were now considered to have made it into the big game.