As Wayfair IPO looms, a look at Boston’s largest tech IPOs (infographic and list)

Wayfair founders Niraj Shah (left) and Steve Conine. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)
Wayfair founders Niraj Shah (left) and Steve Conine. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)

If Wayfair succeeds at raising its targeted $350 million in its initial public offering, it wouldn’t rank as the largest tech IPO in Boston history—though it’d be close. According to my research, the Boston area’s largest technology IPO was A123 Systems and its $371 million offering in 2009.

Which offers a lesson for high-flying homegoods e-tailer Wayfair, since A123 ended up in bankruptcy just a few years later. The lesson being: the IPO is just the beginning of the next phase, not a happily-ever-after ending. In fact, of the five top-raising IPOs in Boston tech history, three have mostly gone out of business (see the infographic below).

I have no doubt Wayfair’s founders don’t need to hear this lesson, though, based on the numerous risk factors disclosed by the company as one of its filing requirements in preparation for the IPO (not all of which are boilerplate).

In any case, hopes are high that Wayfair will follow the Akamai example rather than the A123 one, and remain an engine for hiring, startup spinouts, and overall economic growth in Boston for years to come.

Also worth noting: Wayfair is well poised at least to be the largest consumer-facing tech IPO in Boston’s history, with Zipcar the current holder of that title (check out the list of 30 notable Boston tech IPOs below the infographic).

largesttechIPOs (1)

Image of woman on a laptop via Shutterstock.

This chart is based on my own research, and isn’t an attempt to include every Boston tech IPO—though I do believe I have the most notable ones (i.e. the largest ones from the dot-com era along with all of the most recent ones). I still may have missed some notable ones however, so feel free to let me know if that’s the case.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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