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4/30/2007
04:46 PM
Bob Evans
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Transparency Defined: A Look Inside VMware's IPO

VMware's IPO-related filings include a discussion of the competitive threat posed by Microsoft in the virtualization space, a breakout of VMware license revenue versus professional services revenue (guess which is growing more rapidly?), the hiring of a CFO from Amazon, and a decision by many customers to run all of their new apps on VMware software. While the SEC-mandated documents are a tad dry in places, they also provide an unpreceden

VMware's IPO-related filings include a discussion of the competitive threat posed by Microsoft in the virtualization space, a breakout of VMware license revenue versus professional services revenue (guess which is growing more rapidly?), the hiring of a CFO from Amazon, and a decision by many customers to run all of their new apps on VMware software. While the SEC-mandated documents are a tad dry in places, they also provide an unprecedented look at VMware's history, financials, risks, executive compensation levels, and more.My colleague Paul McDougall reported last week that EMC's VMware unit is planning to raise up to $100 million in a forthcoming IPO, and also noted that the white-hot virtualization market is attracting lots of competitors, including Microsoft. Here's a sample of how the VMware prospectus described the impending multifront competition with Microsoft and its forthcoming Viridian products:

"Some of these competitors have in the past and may in the future take advantage of their existing relationships to engage in business practices that make our products less attractive to our end users. For example, Microsoft has recently implemented distribution arrangements with x86 system vendors and independent software vendors, or ISVs, related to certain of their operating systems that only permit the use of Microsoft's virtualization format and do not allow the use of our corresponding format. Microsoft has also recently implemented pricing policies that require customers to pay additional license fees based on certain uses of virtualization technology. These distribution and licensing restrictions, as well as other business practices that may be adopted in the future by our competitors, could materially impact our prospects regardless of the merits of our products."

On the financial side, total revenue for 2006 was $703.9 million. Of that, license revenue was $491.9 million, while services revenue was $212 million. But while year-over-year license revenue grew 60% in 2005 and 71% in 2006, those huge numbers were outstripped by the jump in services revenue: up 151% in 2005, and 112% in 2006. The prospectus notes,

"The increases in services revenues in 2006 and 2005 were primarily attributable to growth in our software maintenance revenues and, to a lesser extent, increases in our professional services offerings.... Professional services revenues increased due to growing demand for design and implementation services and training programs."

VMware's new CFO, Mark S. Peek, brings experience in a high-growth, public-company environment from his time at Amazon: Peek

"has been our Chief Financial Officer since April 2007. Prior to joining VMware, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of Amazon.com Inc. from July 2002. Prior to joining Amazon.com in April 2000, Mr. Peek spent nineteen years at Deloitte & Touche, the last ten years a partner. Mr. Peek is expected to assume the role of our principal financial officer and principal accounting officer following a brief transition period."

And VMware's IPO revelations also show strong adoption trends among big companies: It has more than 20,000 customers, with 100% of the Fortune 100 and 84% of Fortune 1,000. "Many customers have implemented a policy to standardize and run all their new applications on" VMware products, the documents say, "presenting us with significant opportunities to expand our footprint within these organizations as they grow their IT infrastructure."

On that last point: I thought IT infrastructures were going to *shrink* because of virtualization, not grow along with them. What's going on here?

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