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Violin Memory falls through basement in first day of trading

World's smallest (publicly listed) violin plays a sad IPO tune

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Violin Memory's hotly-anticipated IPO fizzled on the first day of trading.

The flash-array company had raised some $162m by selling its shares at $9, but on the first day of trading the stock opened below $8 and fell from there.

The stock closed at $7.02 on Friday, down 22 percent. Violin Memory has posted a loss for the last three years in a row, and losses have widened every year while revenues have inched up.

Last year, the company posted a $109m loss on revenues of $73.7m. It had hoped to raise $2bn with its IPO.

Some of the potential reasons for the drubbing the shares received could lie with uncertainty over Violin's business. In 2012, HP accounted for 65 percent of the company's entire revenues, but dropped Violin in October over fears of competition with 3-PAR. As we said at the time, this was "devastating".

Thirty-seven percent of the company's revenues in 2013 came from a mere five clients, some of which resell to the US government, which is currently going through one of its periodic bouts of cost-cutting.

Other reasons could be the recent bout of consolidation in the storage market, with Cisco's purchase of Whiptail, Western Digital's purchase of Virident, and heavy internal R&D by storage firms such as HP and EMC.

This, combined with the poor state of flash-storage bellwether Fusion-io, could help explain why investors were turned off buying shares in just-another-flash-array (JAFA) company. Violin trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VMEM. ®

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