We’ve been covering technology here at HotHardware for close to two decades, and although we’re pretty well seasoned, last week we got to experience something new – we participated in a company’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Aquantia (NYSE:AQ), makers of multi-Gigabit networking technology, went public on Friday and Marco was the sole tech journalist allowed to tag along.
We first covered a couple of Aquantia’s products earlier this year – the AQN-107 and AQN-108 multi-Gigabit add-in boards. But since then the company has scored numerous design wins and their chips have found their way onto enthusiast motherboards, and into gaming notebooks and multi-Gigabit network switches, among other things.
Interacting with Aquantia’s executives and their families and friends throughout the day of the company’s IPO was kind of surreal. Many of the people involved have been with Aquantia from the beginning and watched it grow from a handful of people to a multi-million dollar company, now publicly traded company. Needless to say, the people involved were extremely excited the day of the IPO.
The day began with a brief presentation by the New York Stock Exchange’s Global Head Of Listings, John Tuttle, who presented Aquantia CEO Faraj Aalaei with some commemorative items, including a gavel and coin signifying the original listing and opening bell ceremony. A Certificate of Listing was also presented to Aalaei, which we suspect will be hanging prominently somewhere in the company’s Silicon Valley Head Quarters.
The actual ringing of the opening bell was rather exciting. There was lots of cheering and fist pumping in the lead up, which culminated with the blaring ringing of the actual bell. Executives, various employees, and their friends and families then took a handful of pictures. And all of this took place inches away from CNBC’s ‘Squawk On The Street’ which shoot just below the balcony where the opening bell resides.
But after the opening bell, things calmed down and the waiting for the first actual trade began. Right up until the last moment, Aquantia and its underwriters jockey and negotiate for the best possible opening price. The negotiations are sometimes quick, but may also take hours. In Aquantia’s case, it was about an hour before the first trade. The initial public offering of 6.8M shares opened at $9.31.
The current NYSE building was erected in 1903, but is home to an array of interesting historical items, some of which date all the way back to the 1790's when the exchange was originally founded. The original Buttonwood Agreement, which was signed by twenty four New York-based brokers and merchants on May 17, 1792 on Wall Street was on display. The document got its name because it was signed outside, under a Buttonwood tree, which was a popular meeting spot on Wall Street back then. Some early technology is on display as well, along with various receipts, bonds, pricing charts and other assorted memorabellia. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the NYSE, we strongly recommend taking a tour. We haven't even scratched the surface of the historical items on display in and around the building.
Aquantia hopes its multi-Gigabit network technology finds its way into more consumer, enterprise, and data center applications moving forward. And it’s got aspirations in the autonomous vehicle market as well. Whether or not it succeeds remains to be seen, but Aquantia’s technology is without rival at the moment and the infusion of funds from its IPO certainly won’t hurt.