Salesforce rival Freshworks valued at over $12 billion as shares jump in U.S. debut


FILE PHOTO: A man types into a keyboard during a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

-Enterprise software maker Freshworks Inc was valued at $12.2 billion in its Nasdaq debut on Wednesday after shares opened 21% above the initial offering price, indicating strong demand for firms that have thrived during the pandemic.

Shares of the Salesforce.com rival opened at $43.50 compared with the IPO price of $36 per share. Freshworks joins a wave of tech listings this week, as the company sees higher demand from customers embracing the hybrid work model.

Founded in the Indian city of Chennai, Freshworks has a suite of products that helps businesses with customer management, such as a messaging platform and an artificial-intelligence powered chatbot for customer support.

"Our products are even more relevant today in the post pandemic world", said Girish Mathrubootham, chief executive at Freshworks. "Every business wants to engage better with their customers through online digital channels, and they want to enable their employees to work from home.”

The listing is also widely celebrated by the tech community in India, who sees Freshworks as the first homegrown software as a service (SaaS) company to go public in the U.S.

"Freshworks could be the torchbearer for a whole new generation of entrepreneurs in India. We think that there's embedded product and tech talent and entrepreneurs everywhere," said Sameer Gandhi, partner at Accel, an early investor in Freshworks.

Founded by Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy, Freshworks raised its first round of funds in 2011 and got its first customer, the Atwell College in Australia, in the same year. Its backers include Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management.

San Mateo, California-headquartered Freshworks said it serves more than 50,000 companies, including high-profile names such as Delivery Hero SE, Swedish payments firm Klarna and Cisco Systems.

On Tuesday night, the company priced its IPO above the top end of the range to raise $1.03 billion.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities were the lead underwriters for the offering.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru, Echo Wang and Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and David Gregorio)

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