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Clearwater tech firm KnowBe4 launches IPO at $16 per share

The cybersecurity training company made its Nasdaq debut Thursday morning.
Left to right: KnowBe4 board member Jeremiah Daly, co-president and chief revenue officer Lars Letonoff and co-president and chief financial officer Krish Venkataraman ring the Nasdaq bell in New York to open trading on April 22. Clearwater's KnowBe4, a cybersecurity training company, launched its initial public offering at $Left to right: KnowBe4 board member Jeremia16 per share.
Left to right: KnowBe4 board member Jeremiah Daly, co-president and chief revenue officer Lars Letonoff and co-president and chief financial officer Krish Venkataraman ring the Nasdaq bell in New York to open trading on April 22. Clearwater's KnowBe4, a cybersecurity training company, launched its initial public offering at $Left to right: KnowBe4 board member Jeremia16 per share. [ Nasdaq ]
Published Apr. 22
Updated Apr. 22

A month after declaring its intent to go public, Clearwater cybersecurity training company KnowBe4, Inc., made its stock market debut Thursday with an initial public offering of $16 per share.

Appearing on the Nasdaq as KNBE, the firm offered 9.5 million shares of stock, including 9 million from the company and 500,000 from select shareholders. At $16 per share, the offering, known as an IPO, would raise $152 million.

The offering’s underwriters will have 30 days to purchase an additional 1.425 million shares at the same price, which would bump the haul to $174.8 million — virtually matching KnowBe4’s 2020 revenues.

KnowBe4 co-president and chief financial officer Krish Venkataraman, co-president and chief revenue officer Lars Letonoff, and board member Jeremiah Daly rung Nasdaq’s opening bell in New York to mark the occasion.

“It’s exciting times,” CEO Stu Sjouwerman said as shares began trading. “It’s a major milestone.”

Founded in 2010, the company two years ago received a valuation of $1 billion through capital funding, making it what’s known in the tech world as a “unicorn.” At $16 per share, the company would have a hypothetical value — if all shares hit the market — of $2.6 billion, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

KnowBe4 opened at $19.95 per share Thursday, above expectations, and peaked at $25.94 shortly before closing at $24.14. At the highest price, the company’s collective shares were worth nearly $4.3 billion.

Sjouwerman dismissed the idea of putting a new value on KnowBe4 after one day of trading.

“This thing is simply going to run the way the market decides it’s going to run,” he said. “There’s been some volatility, but this is only day one for us. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Related: KnowBe4 going public as Clearwater firm aims for $100 million IPO

About 820 of KnowBe4′s approximately 1,000 global employees work from its headquarters in downtown Clearwater. But the company has offices around the world, servicing more than 37,000 clients who pay KnowBe4 to train employees how to recognize and fight cyberscams, such as phishing.

“You can’t open the paper and there isn’t another huge data breach,” Sjouwerman said. “Our message to the world has been, ‘Guys, you have to allocate your budgets where you can actually get the biggest ROI (return on investment), the biggest bang for your buck. So start investigating your human layer, because that is where the biggest damage occurs.’ Today should help in getting that message across.”

Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4, poses in his work area in the executive suite of the company's headquarters in Clearwater in February 2020.
Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4, poses in his work area in the executive suite of the company's headquarters in Clearwater in February 2020. [ SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES ]

Sjouwerman has lived in the Tampa Bay area for 25 years. He and his wife Rebecca have donated millions to charitable causes and institutions around Tampa Bay, including the Humane Society of Pinellas, the city of Dunedin’s efforts to purchase land from the estate of philanthropist Gladys Douglas and the Church of Scientology, of which they are longtime members.

KnowBe4 saw revenues of $174.9 million in 2020, up from $120.6 million in 2019 and $71.3 million in 2018. It did not, however, turn a profit in any of those years. Last year’s net loss was $2.4 million.

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Sjouwerman said the company’s priority for now is international growth, although with that could come more jobs in Clearwater.

“We will steadily add people over here as long as we keep expanding,” he said. “I don’t see a ceiling.”

Private equity firm KKR Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs, which each own more than 10 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, are among the underwriters for the IPO, along with Morgan Stanley and BofA Securities. The initial public offering window is expected to close on Monday.

Times staff writer Tracey McManus contributed to this report.