The lockdowns of the past two years have given the digitization of all kinds of processes a huge boost. This trend has in turn caused the valuation of tech companies to rise sharply. Nevertheless, a stock exchange listing remains unattainable for most of them, especially in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam stock exchange was not a good place for the average tech IPO in 2021 – and has not been for many years.

While the prices on the stock exchanges (including those of Amsterdam) continue to rise, Coolblue postponed its IPO in October of this year. Founder, CEO and well-known Dutchman Pieter Zwart called uncertainty in the financial markets the main reason for the postponement. Uncertainty in the financial markets, that's stock market language for: when Coolblue tried to sell the shares, investors had not so interested.

What about the fact that investors are not interested in tech funds despite the seemingly ideal conditions? In this blog we go into more detail about this. The relationship between technology companies and the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange is a rather special one.

Let us take the world of programmers as a starting point: IT services, software, artificial intelligence. Dutch investors are remarkably hesitant to provide growth capital to fast-growing companies in digital solutions. 

This trepidation is largely due to the conservative nature of northwestern European investors; neighboring Germany has the same phenomenon. Risk aversion, investors' fear of losing their investment, is much greater than, for example, in the United States. We briefly touched on this phenomenon here. 

In the Netherlands, this cautious attitude is reinforced by the WorldOnline IPO debacle in 2000 – which will be particularly clear to the minds of investors aged 40+. That one time when the Dutch dropped their conservative attitude towards tech, things went badly wrong. The WorldOnline share reached a price of 50 euros immediately after the IPO – in an enormous hype. People who had traditionally been accustomed to saving well, bought shares at the IPO, not expecting things to go wrong. But it did. Shortly after the IPO (IPO), the price collapsed within a few weeks to a level of less than 20 euros. 

For those who didn't sell their shares, things got even worse. WorldOnline was acquired by the Italian-listed provider Tiscali. There the course continued at a rapid downwards. The stock fund still exists today. For a share of Tiscali today you pay 0.019 euros.

Nowadays there are more investors in the Netherlands. On average, knowledge about investing, returns and risks has also increased considerably. But the appetite to grant fast-growing tech companies an IPO has not returned to date. This fall, the Italian software company MotorK went public with great difficulty. First, the IPO was postponed. Then the yield fell. The company had hoped to raise 600 million euros, which turned out to be 75 (!) million euros. Even then, investors are still not very enthusiastic.

There have been virtually no comparable recent IPOs in recent years – despite all the efforts of Euronext Amsterdam. The exchange established EnterNext in 2013 for listings of smaller companies – and from 2017 linked a guidance program for high-tech wannabe stock exchange companies to this: TechShare. 

There is no question of a spreading fire. EnterNext is anything but a success in the Netherlands. The IPO of LucasBols in 2015 can still be called the only highlight. Companies are apparently not waiting for, as it is seen, half a stock market listing. If one does go to the stock exchange, then as a real player.

The courses that Euronext organizes together with a number of partners in the context of TechShare are a keeper for now. But that success did not lead to a flood of IPOs. The nature of the beast is extremely restrained, we said.

One IPO can still be mentioned in this context, and that is that of software company from Breda. Just like with Coolblue, an IPO was initially canceled. Later, the company managed to go public through an already existing empty stock exchange shell – a so-called SPCAC. 

Dutch investors have less difficulty – which makes this story even more special – with financing large, international tech companies. This concerns concerns that also enjoy the attention of foreign institutional investors and analysts. That international attention makes them interesting for Dutch investors again. 

Coolblue turned out to be an edge case in that regard. The Dutch retailer has a respectable turnover of around two billion euros. But the company is still very much focused on the Netherlands., on the other hand – turnover 2.5 billion – is active in several countries. That does resonate, on the Amsterdam stock exchange. The company was listed on Euronext Amsterdam in 2016 and is now worth 13 billion euros.

Take payment giant Adyen (market value 79 billion euros) – another fast-growing company that has made its appearance in recent years. And then there's Prosus, the half-South African, half-Dutch investor in technology companies. It was listed in 2019. These three funds have now been included in the AEX main index of the Amsterdam stock exchange – where they encounter other established technology companies: Philips on the one hand and the chip funds ASML, Besi and ASM International on the other.

The AEX now exists For 30 percent from high tech giants. But the stock exchange has not (yet) found a clear route towards a dream exit for smaller tech entrepreneurs.