Seattle’s loss, Atlanta’s gain and vice versa
Seattle has fumbled the ball with the loss of several Seattle businesses.
Seattle Times business staff
Sunday’s playoff game between the Seahawks and the Falcons gives Seattle not just a chance to reach the NFC championship round, but an opportunity to even the score on Atlanta’s stinging victories on the field of business.
Granted, this is not what most football fans care about. Still — talk about your heartbreaking turnovers: UPS. AT&T Wireless. Cinnabon, for Pete’s sake.
Right here in our own football stadium, Seattle upstart Jones Soda ousted Atlanta-based Coca-Cola as the official soft-drink provider in 2008. But it fumbled the ball two years later and lost control; the same happened at Alaska Airlines. Two victories for Coke.
Bigger, more important deals have gone Atlanta’s way, too.
AT&T Wireless, the crown jewel of Seattle’s telecommunications savvy, was sold in 2004 for $41 billion to Atlanta-based Cingular (which then took on the AT&T name). That acquisition cost this region thousands of jobs and much of its reputation as a key node in the cellphone universe.
Seattle’s record of such losses goes way back to a company started in 1907, United Parcel Service. Founded in Pioneer Square by a 19-year-old messenger, it grew into a global logistics giant.
True, its headquarters moved first to California and then New York before settling in Atlanta, according to historylink.org, but regional grudges can’t be derailed by such details.
Then there’s Cinnabon. The recipe for its success — that scent of sugary cinnamon relentlessly wafting through shopping malls — was developed in Seattle by Restaurants Unlimited. Spun off as an independent company in 1996 when it had 300 stores, Cinnabon hoped to go public.
Instead it was acquired by an Atlanta-based fried-chicken powerhouse, AFC, and later sold to another Atlanta company.
The worst part may be this: Cinnabon has done very well since then, expanding its doughy goodness as far as Russia, Dubai and Libya. It recently hit $900 million in sales and opened its 1,000th store — in Vancouver, Wash.
Of course, Seattle has bowled over a few Atlanta businesses, too. The latest is Teavana, a Georgia-growth story snatched up by Starbucks during a period of weakness in its stock.
And then there’s the double turnover of Seattle’s Best Coffee. It was sold the same year as Cinnabon to the chicken chain AFC, which had notions of expanding it rapidly. But those ambitions fell short and Seattle’s Best was returned to its namesake city as another Starbucks brand.
Clearly, though, Atlanta has usually come out on top in this series. Perhaps Sunday’s game will help balance the ledger.
-- Rami Grunbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tableau touted as hot IPO prospect
Remember back when your well-meaning dad began clearing the mantel for MVP trophies even though you hadn’t even made the team yet? Or how your mom said you’d soon be dancing Odette in “Swan Lake” as you stepped into your first ballet class?
That’s kind of what happened to hot Seattle-based data-visualization company Tableau Software.
PrivCo, a boutique-research firm specializing in not-yet-public companies, last week predicted that Tableau will be the best performing initial public offering of stock in 2013.
Which is a pretty bold prediction, given that the year is barely under way and Tableau hasn’t even filed the preliminary paperwork to go public.
The company has, however, been signaling that an IPO is likely sooner rather than later, adding executives and board members with appropriate experience.
Tableau has been high on many analysts’ lists of anticipated IPOs for 2013, but PrivCo spelled out a few reasons it thinks the company will outperform all other new issues:
• Strong revenue growth. With 2012 sales estimated at $105 million, Tableau has a three-year compound annual growth rate of 79.6 percent, according to PrivCo data.
• A roster of big-name customers, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Merck, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark and the U.S. Army.
• Strong IPO performances from other business-computing companies, such as Workday (up 88.4 percent from its IPO price) and Palo Alto Networks (still 19 percent above its IPO price despite a big sell-off last fall).
None of this, of course, guarantees a successful IPO, especially before potential investors have looked through Tableau’s financials or studied its business model.
And even if a company itself is solid, investors might sour on its sector or, depending on economic news, its prospects. Or some larger company could swoop in and buy it up.
Tableau itself declined to comment on PrivCo’s forecast.
—Drew DeSilver: email@example.com
Comments? Rami Grunbaum: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8541