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Fusion-io Wows in IPO Debut

Fusion-io IPO story updated with CEO interview video, closing price.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Counting many top-line Silicon Valley firms as customers, Fusion-io (FIO), the Salt Lake City maker of products that improve data center efficiency, kicked off life as a public company with a strong first day of trading Thursday.

The company's shares closed at $22.50, more than 18% above their opening price. Fusion-io priced its offering at $19, north of its projected range of $16 to $18 a share, for a total IPO value of $233.7 million.

While it might not have the social media-based makeup that characterizes some of the more recent, buzzy IPOs like LinkedIn (LNKD), Fusion-io, which counts Facebook and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) among its largest customers, is close enough to satisfy some of the investor hunger for publicly-traded tech firms.

Facebook accounted for around 47% of Fusion-io's revenue during the nine months ending in March this year, according to a regulatory filing. The company also sells to Apple via a reseller, a relationship that made up 20% of the company's sales during the first three months of this year. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is a high-profile member of the company's management team.

Wozniak joined Fusion-io in 2008, and has since been a vocal champion of the firm's solid state disk (SSD) technology.

SSDs, which offer users faster data-access speeds than traditional hard disk drives and lower power and cooling costs than other storage methods, have been gaining momentum in recent years, with companies such as EMC (EMC) and IBM (IBM) highlighting the technology. IBM uses the startup's ioMemory product within its System x server family, and HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) are two of Fusion-io's OEM partners.

But while Fusion-io's public debut was wildly applauded on Wall Street, details in its S-1 filing reiterate a potentially troubling "bubble" theme linked to many of the young Internet firms hitting the public market: Weak balance sheets.

Fusion-io registered a net loss of $31.7 million during fiscal 2010. The company also warned that revenue from Facebook will "decline significantly" during the three months ending June 30 2011.

Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at research firm IPOBoutique, nonetheless cites Fusion-IO as an attractive offering. "Fusion-io is a part of the new technological breakthroughs that allow companies to move from traditional disk memory to flash memory," he said in an email to TheStreet. "The company's enterprise flash-based drives help store data in smaller devices and is known for being an incredibly fast data storage solution."

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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