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Embedded Linux company Lineo scraps IPO plans

The move is a sign that investor pessimism has swept into a previously optimistic part of the Linux landscape.

Lineo on Friday withdrew its plans for an initial public offering, a sign that investor pessimism has swept into a previously optimistic part of the Linux landscape.

Lineo, which had filed in May to go public, is working to put Linux in set-top boxes, network routers and other non-PC "embedded" computing devices. Even as the regular Linux market lost its luster and other Linux companies consolidated, the embedded market attracted many new start-ups and two IPO filings.

"We decided to pull it," Chief Executive Bryan Sparks said in an interview. "We had a board meeting on Wednesday and we discussed market conditions the last couple months. We think the IPO window is closed."

Lineo has numerous competitors. Among them are established embedded operating system companies such as Wind River Systems and Lynuxworks, the first of which is publicly traded and the second of which filed its IPO plans in October as it moves to embrace Linux. Lineo also competes with established Linux companies such as Red Hat and start-ups such as MontaVista Software, TimeSys and Coollogic.

The canceled IPO is because of drops on the Nasdaq market, not because of problems with Lineo's own business, Sparks said.

"We'd be trading on the Nasdaq. It's way down and hasn't shown a clear direction of recovering," he said. "The last thing we wanted to do was go out (on the public market) and have a correction of our stock that is independent of our execution."

Sparks said the company still is growing, pointing in particular to international expansion and new hiring in the company's sales force. The company now has a little more than 300 employees, he said.

"We're still happy with the way our business is going," he said.

In addition, the company plans to announce an acquisition in coming weeks as well as new product directions in about two weeks at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo trade show in New York.

The company hopes to file again for an IPO, he said. "We're still committed to being a publicly traded company at some point," Sparks said.

There are penalties to pulling away from an IPO. It costs money to have an IPO registration statement open, and competitors can scrutinize the business, Sparks said.