Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997: Tech and Internet Fever

1 minutes reading time
Published 25 Mar 2024
Author: Emil Persson
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson

In 1997, the general market sentiment and the IPO landscape were markedly optimistic and buoyant, reflective of the health of the economy and the burgeoning internet sector. The year was characterized by a robust stock market, with investors displaying a strong appetite for new equity offerings, particularly those involving technology and internet-related companies.

Key Insights

  • A bull market and high volume of IPOs: The year witnessed a high volume of IPOs, with numerous companies taking advantage of the favorable market conditions to go public.

  • Tech and internet boom: A significant characteristic of the 1997 IPO landscape was the growing prominence of technology and internet-related companies.

  • Speculative investments and valuations: The optimism and high levels of liquidity in the markets led to increased speculative investments, particularly in the technology and internet sectors. Investors were willing to bet on potential future growth, often disregarding traditional valuation metrics.

Bullish Market Conditions Were Favorable for IPOs

The financial markets in 1997 were characterized by a pronounced bullish sentiment, which in turn significantly influenced the landscape of POs. This period in the stock market was marked by considerable optimism among investors, fueled by robust economic indicators, technological advancements, particularly in the internet and tech sectors, and a general sense of confidence in the equity markets.

The bullish market of 1997 created an environment that was highly conducive for companies considering going public. The high investor confidence translated into a greater willingness to invest in the shares of new public companies, betting on their future growth and potential returns. The soaring stock prices provided a lucrative opportunity for private companies to capitalize on the market conditions, leading to a high volume of IPOs.

The technology sector, especially, witnessed a surge in IPOs, with investors eager to capitalize on the potential of the Internet, which was increasingly seen as a transformative force for the business sector and society at large. The IPO landscape of 1997 was also marked by high valuations and significant first-day gains for newly public companies, often regardless of their underlying fundamentals. This exuberance was partly fueled by the widespread belief in the 'new economy'—the idea that traditional business metrics and models were less relevant in the face of the internet's growth potential. While the dot-com bubble (as it would later be called) would inflate at a higher pace in the following years, many of its characteristic signs were on full display this year.

Tech and Internet Companies

During 1997 and continuing into 1998 and 1999, there was a notable surge in the number of technology and internet companies deciding to go public. The appeal of the technology sector was largely driven by the internet's potential to revolutionize how businesses operate, communicate, and deliver products and services.

The tech-driven market enthusiasm was partly a reflection of the broader technological revolution happening at the time. The internet was beginning to reshape the business landscape, and investors were keen to back companies that promised innovative solutions, rapid growth, and the potential to dominate emerging technological sectors. This enthusiasm for tech-related IPOs was emblematic of the market sentiment, where the promise of future profits and the fear of missing out on the next big thing drove investment decisions. Investors were eager to back these companies, betting on the internet's long-term impact on the economy. One of the key metrics that investors used during the time was customer acquisition, with profitability and even sound business plans being thrown to the wayside.

Speculative Investment Climate

In 1997, the landscape of investments and valuations, particularly in the technology and internet sectors, was heavily influenced by a unique blend of optimism and abundant liquidity in the markets.

Investors during this time were increasingly drawn to speculative investments, which are essentially financial bets on future potential rather than present performance. The technology and internet companies, many of which were startups or in early development stages, became prime targets for such investments. Investors were captivated by the transformative promise of the internet and the potential for exponential growth, leading to a rush to invest in any company that had a ".com" in its name or was associated with technology, regardless of its financial viability or business model.

The extraordinary investor optimism led to a widespread disregard for traditional valuation metrics in favor of potential future growth. This was partly because many of the tech companies at the time were not profitable, yet they promised revolutionary changes in commerce, communication, and daily life. The result was a market increasingly detached from traditional financial fundamentals, with company valuations often based on speculative forecasts, user acquisition rates, or mere conceptual potential rather than solid financial performance.

Notable Companies That Went Public in 1997


What is now one of the largest and most important companies in the world went public in 1997. Back then, Amazon was primarily focused on selling books but in the years following its IPO, the company started branching out into a more diverse range of products.

Further reading: The Story of Jeff Bezos and

Eurofins Scientific

10 years after the French laboratory group Eurofins Scientific was founded it had its IPO on the Paris Stock Exchange.

Take-Two Interactive

The owner of Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, (the studio behind Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption) had its IPO in 1997.

Further reading: Take-Two Interactive: Rising to Power Through Strategic Acquisitions

Several REITs Went Public

While tech and internet companies were all the rage, 1997 was also a year that saw a large number of Real Estate Investment Trusts go public. Some examples include Boston Properties, SL Green Realty, Alexandria Real Estate Properties, and EPR Properties. These companies stand in stark contrast to many of the other companies that had their IPOs in 1997. Unlike several other companies that went public during the year and fell victim to the dot-com crash, all of the companies mentioned above are still in business today.

Telecom Companies IPOs

Another sector that saw a flurry of activity on the IPO market was telecom companies. Some of the more notable telecom companies going public in 1997 were China Mobile, Telstra, France Telecom (now Orange), and Deutsche Telekom.

Closing Thoughts

The atmosphere of 1997 was one of optimistic speculation, where the future of technology and globalization painted a promising picture for the financial markets. Companies and investors alike were keen to partake in the perceived ongoing prosperity, making the year notable for its high volume of IPOs and the bullish market conditions that supported them. This period set the stage for the later stages of the 1990s bull market, culminating in the dot-com bubble, where similar sentiments reached even greater extremes.

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