IPOs on the Go

Not everyone in the IT industry is sitting on the edge of their seats for
Google’s Nasdaq debut. Several firms are moving ahead with IPOs rather than
trying to divine the health of the market from the search darling’s results.

Phase Forward , a maker of enterprise
software for the pharmaceutical industry, went public this morning. Shares
opened at $8.75, nearly 17 percent higher than the $7.50 offering
price.

The seven-year-old company is selling 5.25 million shares and hopes to raise
$34.6 million. The IPO is underwritten by Thomas Weisel Partners, Piper
Jaffray & Co., and Raymond James & Associates.

The company will use net proceeds for working capital and other general
corporate purposes, including sales and marketing, research and
development, repayment of debt and possible acquisitions.

Phase Forward’s prospects are more dependent on the pharmaceutical and
biotechnology industry than traditional corporate customers. Its software
is sold through multi-year licenses and is used to automate tasks in the
clinical trial stage of research and development efforts. The firm also
provides support and hosting services.

Phase Forward customers include AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Biogen Idec,
Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Guidant, The Procter &
Gamble Company, Schering-Plough Research Institute and Serono.

Although it’s relatively small, Phase Forward has big competition. In
addition to drug companies that have their own in-house software to handle
clinical trials, niche consultants and systems integrators, the firm goes up
against Oracle Clinical, a division of enterprise software giant Oracle .

In its IPO registration paperwork, Phase Forward said it “competes
favorably” with rivals on product development, customer support and service
delivery, but acknowledged that many “have greater name recognition, longer
operating histories and significantly greater resources.”

By going public, Phase Forward hopes to address that.

Other IT-related IPOs in the queue include Greenfield Online, a provider of
Internet survey technology to the marketing research industry. The firm
manages the Greenfield Online panel, a group of 1.7 million individuals who
participate in surveys results.

Greenfield Online competes with other Internet-based marketing research data
collection firms, including SPSS Service Bureau and Harris Interactive
Service Bureau.

On the New York Stock Exchange, Freescale Semiconductor ,
which provides chips for the automotive, networking and wireless
communications industries, is also preparing to go public.

Earlier this week Google said its shares would trade on the Nasdaq, not the
NYSE, a vote of confidence for the tech-heavy market. In preliminary filings,
the company said it hopes to raise up to $2.7
billion
, however the price range of shares has not yet been set.

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