growth

The next hot IPO: Former Smart50 finalist Aconex hits the big time

Cara Waters /

Aconex is the latest Aussie tech company set to list on the Australian Securities Exchange with an initial public offering planned for next month. 

An IPO is the next obvious step for the former Smart50 finalist, which recorded $66.2 million in revenue last year and employs 400 staff around the world.

Fairfax reports the float will value Aconex (a name borne of the combination “Australian construction exchange”) at between $400 million and $700 million.

But Leigh Jasper, who co-founded Aconex with his former school classmate Robert Phillpot in 2000, told SmartCompany no final decision has been made yet.

“I think the considerations of an IPO are the natural evolution of a company and will provide some flexibility,” he says.

The pair plan to grow the business more by focusing on Aconex’s international strategy and product development.

“Continue to focus on international growth and build out our different regions across Asia, the Middle East and the Americas,” he says.

“We are also continuing to invest in the product with a range of product launches. We are investing heavily around mobility and accessing and managing information from your tablet and smart phone.”

Aconex cut its EBITDA loss from $8.9 million to $4.1 million this financial year and Jasper says the business is on track to move into profitability next financial year.

An IPO would represent a significant potential payday for Jasper and Phillpot who currently own “just under” 25% of Aconex.

“Should we IPO, Rob and I are intending to keep the significant majority of our shareholding,” Jasper says.

An IPO would see Aconex join the ranks of a string of Australian tech companies which are looking to list.

The proceeds raised from IPOs for the first half of 2014 was $5.6 billion, six times higher compared to the first half of 2013.

Jasper says it has been positive to see so many more Aussie tech companies list on the ASX and this is reflective of the strength of the sector in Australia.

“One thing that has been positive is that the Australian market, the ASX has had more tech companies come onto the board,” he says.

“Its great to see that there are so many new disruptive tech companies emerging from the Australian market.”

Unlike other tech companies such as Atlassian, which are looking to move their base from Australia, Jasper says Aconex is happy to stay put. 

“We were founded in Australia but we are a global tech business that happens to be based in Australia,” he says.

Jasper spent four years living in San Francisco to help build Aconex but is happy to be on home soil now for “family reasons”.

“We’ve always been an Australian company. It’s still the largest part of our business,” he says.

“Australia is a great place to develop and build out our technology. We have very talented staff and very loyal staff and that has underpinned our ability to build great technology.”

Jasper says what Australia could do better is produce more technology talent.

“The talent is very good but there’s not enough of it. We need to make it easier to bring in technical staff on visas.”

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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