Cybersecurity Firm Carbon Black Advances IPO After Years of Rumors

Carbon Black is moving closer to a long-anticipated initial public stock offering.

The Boston-area cybersecurity company filed an S-1 document with the SEC on Monday indicating it might raise up to $100 million in an IPO, although that number could shift if Carbon Black ends up going public. It has applied to trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol CBLK, according to the filing.

The endpoint-security company has been seen as an IPO candidate for several years, and that talk heated up in October 2016 when Carbon Black reportedly took advantage of a 2012 law that allows smaller private companies to confidentially file IPO plans with the SEC. But the public offering hasn’t materialized, perhaps because of market conditions, or some other reason. Tech IPOs have come less frequently in the past couple of years, and companies that have taken the plunge have had mixed stock performances.

Soon, it could be Carbon Black’s turn. The Waltham, MA-based company is advancing its IPO plans at a time when anxiety over cyber threats—and business investment in security measures—is growing. Meanwhile, the window for tech IPOs could be opening wider. Music streaming service Spotify (NYSE: SPOT), file storage company Dropbox (NASDAQ: DBX), and cloud security business Zscaler (NASDAQ: ZS) are among this year’s companies that have listed their stock on the public markets. And tech companies such as Zuora, Smartsheet, and Pivotal Software have filed paperwork to go public.

Carbon Black reported $162 million in revenue in 2017, up from $116.2 million in 2016 and $70.6 million in 2015, according to SEC documents. But as its revenues have grown, so have its losses. Carbon Black posted a net loss of $55.8 million last year, compared with $44.5 million in 2016 and $38.65 million in 2015.

Carbon Black has raised more than $191 million from investors since it was founded in 2002 as Bit9. It changed its name to Carbon Black in January 2016, adopting the moniker of the San Antonio, TX-based company it acquired in 2014. Carbon Black’s other acquisitions include a deal for Confer Technologies in 2016.

The competitive landscape is very crowded. In Monday’s SEC filing, Carbon Black said its competitors include McAfee, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Cisco Systems, Crowdstrike, and Cylance.

Carbon Black’s largest shareholders include Accomplice, Highland Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, .406 Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Carbon Black CEO Patrick Morley (pictured above), according to this week’s SEC filing.

Carbon Black had 932 full-time employees at the end of 2017, the vast majority of them located in the U.S., according to the SEC filing.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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