Zillow’s IPO: As the Market Comes Back to Life, Is this Deal the Bellwether of a New Boom?

4/22/11Follow @xconomy

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for its senior management and employees. Because Seattle’s startup community typically winds up raising most of its money from nearby investors, a honest-to-goodness technology IPO can get people’s heart rates up.

“A great technology IPO is one of the most positive things that can happen to the technology investment community, both on the front side—it creates new angel investors who can get into the game—and on the back side, it’s the big shining light at the end of the tunnel for all the years of hard labor,” says entrepreneur Dan Shapiro, founder of Sparkbuy.

Part of the reason Zillow’s IPO might also loom larger than an individual action is the tantalizing thought that many more could be coming. PopCap Games, for instance, has made no secret of its desire to get to the public market soon—between Labor Day and Thanksgiving if possible, and certainly before social-gaming giant Zynga comes along and steals a bunch of thunder. Plus, a solid IPO pipeline has been lacking in this region—and that may be starting to change. On Thursday, Seattle-based RFID company Impinj also filed papers for an IPO, seeking as much as $100 million.

“You’ve got to go public before you can get your name on the building, and that dream has been largely gone for the better part of 10 years here,” Bryant says. “It’s been a very difficult time and an acquisition has really been the only route to liquidity.” Bryant also notes that the last tech IPO from this region, Motricity’s lackluster 2010 entry, wasn’t really a homegrown affair since it was a North Carolina company that relocated to Bellevue, WA after buying a piece of dot-com leftover InfoSpace.

Of course, that’s presuming a Zillow IPO is consummated. Filing an S-1 form with federal regulators is just the first step, and companies have been known to use the format as proactive due diligence and buzz-building. That can force prospective buyers to ante up with a big acquisition, or else risk letting the smaller company scoop up a lot more resources as an independent, publicly traded company.

It’s hard to say how viable Zillow’s IPO prospects really are at this early stage, but some observers weren’t exactly bowled over by the company. Fortune’s Duff McDonald wrote how disappointed he was that Zillow didn’t smash the real estate “cabal,” similar to how travel websites busted up opaque agency … Next Page »

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