FirePond's IPO sizzles

FirePond Inc.'s (Nasdaq: FIRE) IPO shot up 78 1/4 to 100 on Friday. The company priced 5 million shares at $22 each.

Demand was strong for FirePond before it even hit the markets. Shares priced a full 83 percent higher than initial estimates. The software company raised its estimated range to $13-$15 a share from $11-$13.

FirePond's software and services let companies merge their e-commerce selling, customer relationship management and channel management strategies on a single, Internet-based platform. The IPO is led by underwriter Robertson Stephens, and co-managers Dain Rauscher Wessels and SG Cowen.

Revenue for the year ended October 31 was $34.3 million, versus $29.0 million in 1998. Net loss for 1999 was $28.9 million, much wider than the $9.0 million in 1998.

Although FirePond was incorporated in 1983, the former IT consulting firm has only been in the software business since 1997. Almost all product license revenue in the future will come from its new FirePond Application Suite and component products, which were just released in October, the company said, making it hard to evaluate its business.

Because FirePond makes independent applications, as well as an enterprise platform, it has a range of competitors in different market categories. Calico Commerce (Nasdaq: CLIC), Selectica (Nasdaq: SLTC), BroadVision (Nasdaq: BVSN), Vignette (Nasdaq: VIGN), Silknet (Nasdaq: SILK), Siebel Systems (Nasdaq:SEBL) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) are among its public competitors.