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Snowflake is about to go public. It’s the biggest software IPO ever

Sep 16, 2020, 7:04 AM
snowflake ipo...
Cloud data warehouse company Snowflake is promoted at the Nasdaq MarketSite, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    (CNN) — It may still be the dog days of summer but there could be a blizzard on Wall Street Wednesday. Snowflake, a cloud data warehousing firm that has the backing of Salesforce and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is set to go public in what stands to be the biggest software IPO ever.

Snowflake priced its initial public offering Tuesday night at $120 a share — well above the expected range of $100 to $110. That price range was revised upwards from the original expectation of $75 to $85 a share earlier this month. It will trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol of “SNOW.”

The company is selling 28 million shares and will raise nearly $3.4 billion from the IPO. At its $120 share price, Snowflake will be valued at $33.3 billion.

To put that into context, that makes Snowflake, which was just founded in 2012. worth more than established companies in the S&P 500 like Bank of New York Mellon, Hershey and Allstate as well as Dow components Walgreens and Travelers.

No clouds on the IPO horizon

Snowflake is one of several buzzy “unicorn” startups expected to go public before the end of 2020, a list that also includes Airbnb, Palantir and DoorDash.

Snowflake helps blue chip companies analyze and share data in the cloud.

The company said in its most recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it now has more than 3,100 customers — double the total from a year ago. That includes 146 of the Fortune 500 firms.

Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman and other company executives are among the top individual investors in the company. Top venture capital firms Altimeter Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia and Sutter Hill also own significant stakes in the company.

Snowflake disclosed last week that Salesforce, the cloud giant that was recently added to the Dow, and Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway would each buy $250 million in Snowflake stock in a private placement following the IPO.

The partnership with Snowflake could help Salesforce compete even more effectively against the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google owner Alphabet. Snowflake competes with Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure and the Google Cloud platforms.

Berkshire’s investment marks a rare foray by Buffett into the world of tech startups. Berkshire tends to invest more in mature companies like Apple, which is now the Oracle of Omaha’s top holding. Berkshire made a bet on Amazon last year.

Snowflake is not a typical Berkshire bet, because it is not yet profitable — even though sales are rapidly growing.

Revenue more than doubled in the past six months, to $242 million. But the company posted a net loss of $171 million — slightly less than the loss it posted in the same period a year ago.

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Snowflake is about to go public. It’s the biggest software IPO ever