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VMware is public — now what?

VMware finally staged its initial public offering (IPO) today, with EMC selling 10% of its stake in the company, or 33 million shares, and raising almost a $1 billion in the process. The shares were priced at $29 – higher than expected just last week – but by midday had shot up to over $50 per share.

To anyone who’s watched the company over the past couple of years, that the VMware IPO was a rollicking success should come as no surprise. Quarter upon quarter of consecutive growth. Tremendous goodwill from its partners and customers. A slew of imitators and competitors. A healthy ecosystem or start-ups hoping to capitalize on its success. Even entire websites devoted to the core VMware technology :)

More interesting, I think, is how VMware’s newfound semi-autonomous status will impact it product development, and more importantly, how the company deals with its customers?

Public companies are different from private companies, which are different from wholly owned-subsidiaries (even independently operated ones). Sure, right now, VMware can do no wrong, but how will having Wall Street breathing down its neck every quarter impact the company’s ability to create important and fully baked software? How will the emphasis on quarterly results influence the VMware sales force, and the way it treats its accounts? Will VMware’s status as a publicly traded company affect its relationships with its partners?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but will be looking out for clues over the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any theories, feel free to leave a comment, or shoot me an email.

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