Tech's Hot IPO Market: Stay Tuned

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The tech IPO market continues its heat-up this year. Yet while new tickers are performing well in public markets and a handful of prominent Internet start-ups have recently filed their paperwork, investors are still waiting for a blockbuster IPO to open the floodgates.

An IPO from, say, Facebook -- a highly-valued private company already generating about $2 billion in revenue, according to reports -- would help prove that the IPO market is mature and could bring about a slew of other offerings, say analysts.

"I'm looking for a bombshell IPO," Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique, recently told TheStreet. "A premiere name like Facebook would literally bring pandemonium for months."

More than 40 tech firms are currently lingering in the IPO pipeline, many of them household names. Business social network LinkedIn filed its S-1 registration statement in January, followed by online radio company Pandora Media in February.

But until a couple of these known firms take the public plunge, IPO activity in the near future will come from smaller companies.

Within the last 12 months, four of the top five IPO performers have been little-known tech firms, including voice-over-Internet provider Broadsoft ( BSFT), Chinese Internet television company Youku.com ( YOKU), business software company Qlik Technologies ( QLIK) and property management software provider RealPage ( RP).

Led by these companies, the tech sector has seen the highest number of IPOs -- 15 -- out of any other industry this year, according to research firm Renaissance Capital. The sector has also performed solidly, posting an average first-day return of 23.8%, the second highest return of any industry.

Venture-backed IPOs are also up. Last quarter, 14 venture-backed offerings -- valued at $1.4 billion -- priced, up from 9 offerings with a total of $936 million raised during the same period last year, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

The three-month period also marked the strongest opening quarter for venture backed IPOs since 2007, as venture capitalists start to take stronger, riskier bets funding small, high-growth firms like real estate Web site Zillow, which filed for an IPO last week despite its relatively modest financials. The company saw $30.5 million in revenue for 2010 and a net loss of $6.8 million -- a far cry from the revenue benchmark that analysts say firms should hit before going public.

As the market continues to heat up, it could encourage tech start-ups rumored to be considering public offerings, like casual games company PopCap Games in Seattle, media company Glam Media in Brisbane, Calif., and real estate search engine Trulia in San Francisco, to file an S-1.

But for tech investors hungry for a big growth story, they'll have to wait.

"From our perspective, the next wave of growth IPOs is still in the early stages," said Paul Bard, a vice president at Renaissance Capital. "Stay tuned."

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/Ozoran.

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