It’s been a good day over at Apptio. The company went public today and rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq Stock Market. Investors picked up what Apptio put down, as shares soared more than 46 percent this morning for the Bellevue-based company that makes software to help CIOs better understand spending in IT departments.
Apptio makes its public debut with 694 employees across the world, including 406 in its Bellevue headquarters. The company is committed to the Pacific Northwest, and it is in the midst of expanding its headquarters in Bellevue.
Apptio Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Kurt Shintaffer Friday spoke with GeekWire about the IPO, the company’s plan to become profitable and how going public will help grow the business. Answers are edited for style and clarity.
GeekWire: How does it feel to reach this milestone of going public?
Kurt Shintaffer: It’s thrilling, and it’s thrilling because it’s a validation of all the employees’ hard work, validation of this category we’ve been creating and validation that we are actually making an impact for our customers. It’s fun to be able to reflect a little bit about how far we’ve come over the last nine years, and we’re just soaking it in.
GW: What is your reaction to Apptio’s first day on the stock market?
Shintaffer: We had an incredible couple weeks meeting with investors, sharing our story and sharing our vision for how we built the (technology business management) category, and so we think how it’s trading today just reflects investors sharing our enthusiasm and our understanding of what our growth opportunities are. We are always focused on the long term and don’t spend a ton of time on a single day’s trading, but it’s fun to see investors’ reaction is similar to ours.
GW: What’s next for Apptio?
Shintaffer: (The IPO) doesn’t come with any change in strategy. This is an incredible validation of what we’ve done and where we could go. But really, we’re just going to get back to business and continue to build great products, make our customers successful and keep growing the company. We think there is ton of runway ahead, and we are going to continue on that path.
GW: What changes will the company make now that it has gone public?
Shintaffer: In terms of how we think of investing in the business and growing the business there won’t be any specific changes we make. It will just be more of the things we’ve already been doing, which is hiring locally in the Seattle area to build products and serve our customers, expanding internationally and taking advantage of all that opportunity and really getting our message out to more people and more people about how we can make an impact on technology leaders. So it’s really just an amplification of things more than any change in strategy.
GW: What is your path to profitability?
Shintaffer: First and foremost we think about growth. We think about building a really meaningful company with thousands of customers and serving them all over the world. But we also understand that we do need to generate cash flows from our operations, and we are really excited about our ability to do that in the near term. It primarily comes with scaling our business, that’s the primary driver for a business like Apptio to achieve cash flows, and so our strategy of acquiring customers and building great products so they want to continue to work with us really is the strategy to become cash flow positive.
GW: How does going public affect growth plans?
Shintaffer: We think it will help; we think it’s a really meaningful milestone that we get to say we created the category of technology business management and we created a public company that is the leader in that category. We think the validation will only help our ability to have conversations and relationships with more and more technology leaders. So we certainly see an opportunity for this to be a real accelerant for the business.
GW: What is your growth plan locally?
Shintaffer: We are committed to continue to grow in the Northwest. It’s where we were founded, and we think there’s incredible talent. We’re in the in process of taking on additional space in the region right now, and that’s just going to continue. We are committed here. The entire leadership team of Apptio is here and we think it’s an incredible place to hire talent, and we will continue to build and build in the Northwest. We think it’s a real advantage for us to be here.
RELATED COVERAGE: Apptio stock soars 46 percent as enterprise tech company debuts on Wall Street
GW: Tell us why a potential customer should use your products.
Shintaffer: In addition to the fact that we have great products, it really comes down to our commitment to our customers’ success. It’s up on our wall. It’s one of our core values. It’s something we talk about every day, and we refer to it as creating wildly successful customers, and it’s at the heart of everything we do. When you are a category creator and leader you just can’t have any failures with customers, and that’s why we have such focus there. It’s really a thing that’s brought our business to where we are today.
GW: How are you celebrating going public today?
Shintaffer: In addition to the 40 or so people here in New York, we had simulcasts to all the offices around the world in multiple countries. I think there were a lot of champagne glasses clinking this morning when we rang the opening bell and again when we started trading, so it was a really fun time.