Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Exclusive: Workday Picks Its Bankers for a Fall 2012 IPO

Aneel Bhusri

It’s going to be a busy summer and fall at the fast-growing cloud software start-up Workday. Once the madness of the Facebook IPO is over, which will probably be next week, Workday will be the most closely watched of a batch of public offerings from tech companies with an enterprise focus.

Sources familiar with the company’s plans tell AllThingsD that Workday has chosen the four bankers that will lead it through the IPO process: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Allen & Company and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The search for bankers caps a process begun in December.

The company’s IPO path calls for an S-1 filing to be made with the Securities and Exchange Commission by mid-July. After a late summer or early fall road show, its shares would debut between October and December, depending on how favorable market conditions are, sources familiar with the matter tell me.

The process began in earnest after Workday hired its new CFO, Mark Peek, away from VMware, where he was also CFO.

Workday is feeling emboldened in part by the successful offerings of Jive Software and Splunk, both enterprise companies with their hands in the cloud business. Workday itself is a pure cloud software play, specializing in human resources applications, a white-hot area of enterprise that has seen a lot of M&A activity of late.

In December, software concern SAP spent $3.4 billion to acquire SuccessFactors. Then, in February, software giant Oracle spent $1.9 billion to acquire Taleo, in a deal that took place shortly after I interviewed Taleo’s CEO. Even Salesforce got into the act, acquiring the start-up Rypple for an undisclosed amount in December.

Much of that dealmaking came in response to concerns about Workday, especially after its impressive $85 million Series F round of institutional funding at a $2 billion valuation, which AllThingsD reported exclusively in October. A Bloomberg News report said that round was oversubscribed and grew to $100 million when Michael Dell’s MSD Ventures joined.

Investors in that round included several who also took part in institutional rounds in Facebook and Web gaming player Zynga: T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Janus, and Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment entity of Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. William Danoff, the manager of Fidelity’s $80 billion Contrafund, the mutual fund giant’s largest stock-based fund, also participated in that round.

A Workday IPO, which would raise about $500 million, would make for a sweet payday for the company’s earlier investors, which include Dave Duffield and Greylock Partners, who invested $90 million in four rounds, and New Enterprise Associates, which joined a $75 million Series E round in 2009. By my math, Workday’s total capital raised comes to a cool $195 million.

So how’s business? With the company having disclosed $160 million in billings total bookings in 2010, sources familiar with its operations tell me bookings in 2011 exceeded 100 percent growth. That would be above the $320 million in 2011 bookings CEO Aneel Bhusri told me he expected last October.

Workday is essentially the creation of PeopleSoft vets Bhusri and Duffield. They started the company in 2005, not long after losing a pitched battle to resist a $10 billion hostile takeover by Oracle. Bhusri and Duffield concluded that the next battlefield for enterprise software would be in the cloud. They kickstarted Workday using their own money and some funding from Greylock, and brought some PeopleSoft employees with them.

The idea was to re-create PeopleSoft, which makes software that businesses need to run day to day, but to deliver it from the cloud.

And unlike other cloud players that approach smaller companies and work their way up to ever-larger customers, Workday’s customers are already in the big leagues. The average Workday customer — there are 280 — has between 10,000 and 15,000 employees. The biggest is Flextronics, the huge electronics manufacturing company, which has 200,000 employees. Other customers include Time Warner, Thomson Reuters, Chiquita Brands and There are Workday records on more than two million employees on its system. All that after only four-plus years of active selling. A second, newer line of financial applications aimed at helping companies more efficiently manage their spending is getting traction, too.

Workday will probably be the biggest among a pending batch of enterprise-oriented IPOs set for summer and fall after the Facebook madness is over. For one, there’s Violin Memory, which I’ve been reporting on quite a bit. And Reuters is reporting that cloud storage and collaboration concern Box is looking like it’s eyeing an IPO in 2013. The bankers are going to be busy.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik