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Cloud talent management firm Workday lines up $400m IPO

31 Aug 2012
Stock market

Talent management start up Workday has unveiled plans to file an initial public offering (IPO), set to be one of the highest profile floatations since Facebook's botched offering earlier this year.

Documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission show the company plans to raise $400m in its IPO, which is expected to happen in October.

The move comes as competition for cloud-based talent management firms ramps up.

Earlier this year, enterprise software giants SAP and Oracle both shelled out billions to acquire Workday competitors. Oracle paid $1.9bn for Taleo, while SAP coughed up $3.4bn for SuccessFactors. IBM, meanwhile, agreed to acquire Kenexa for $1.3bn.

According to Workday's IPO papers, it looks to be taking Facebook's lead when it comes to post-IPO management arrangements.

Through separating the types of stock made public, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been able to maintain the balance of power within the firm, even though he is no longer the majority share owner.

Duffield and Bhusri are also set to introduce a dual-class share structure. But while Zuckerberg's decision was seen in some quarters as arrogant, Workday's founders may be forgiven for the approach, thanks to the battle scars they bear.

Both Duffield and Bhusri were part of the management team at PeopleSoft that fought tooth and nail in an ultimately doomed attempt to thwart Oracle's hostile takeover.

Duffield had founded PeopleSoft in 1987, and returned as chief executive when it was finally acquired by Oracle in 2005 for $10bn.

But while Duffield has overseen impressive sales growth at Workday, the IPO prospectus underscores the difficulty it faces going up against the business software titans.

Workday has seen annual revenues more than double for each of the past three financial years. But in that time, it has also racked up significant losses – as of 31 July, total losses stood at $330m.

“We cannot assure you that we will achieve profitability in the future, nor that, if we do become profitable, we will sustain profitability,” the IPO prospectus noted.

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