Eloqua (NASDAQ: ELOQ) recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering of its common stock.

Eyebrows were definitely raised in a look of shock and awe, no doubt inspiring many emotions—jealousy? Fear? Disbelief? All of the above? Perhaps.

From analysts and reporters to competitors and investors, the ripple effect is expected to be felt throughout the industry. Despite a first-half net loss of $3.5M, and a future dependent on widespread adoption of revenue performance management (RPM) tools, this filing has major implications and propagates some good questions.

The Widespread Implications

Eloqua’s filing utters a message not unlike a love letter: “I’m here for you, I’m serious about making this work, I want you to only have eyes for me, love me, and if you’re the right one, you might just sweep me off my feet (and buy me.)”

With the filing comes very visible promotion of Eloqua’s product suite, giving the company a huge competitive advantage, plus a not-so-subtle subtext to would be suitors seeking to someday grab marketshare in an RPM land grab. Buyers, customers and competitors are now all on point about Eloqua’s long-term intentions. It’s not just what marketing automation can do for you, but what the future of marketing automation can do for Eloqua.

According to Forrester Research, the strategy could be two-fold: “It’s partly about getting their name out there and partly an effort to speed things up. They may be trying to create a sense of urgency and legitimacy in the marketing software market, especially because Marketo has been very aggressive in the marketplace,” analyst Jeff Ernst said in a recent report.

“Financially, I think they are posturing,” he says. If they hit $100 million and could get a half billion valuation, the math would work—investors would think that was a good return.”

For every eye cast toward the future of Eloqua, several more are now peering into the looking glass of Eloqua’s financials and are seeing even more clearly their own future. “[…]Marketo can confidently assert that we have more customers, are adding customers and revenue at a faster rate, and are growing more than three times faster than Eloqua,” remarked Lori Bush Shepard, VP of Corporate Marketing at Marketo, in a recent report.

One prevalent sentiment amidst reports of the filing suggest that Eloqua is angling to be acquired. Speculations are swirling as to vendors that might be front runners: SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, NetSuite, Adobe, Salesforce.com. While Salesforce.com seems to be in buying mode after the March purchase of Radian6, Eloqua’s close integration with Oracle forms much greater speculation than the rest.

The Questions

As interesting as the filing is for the information it contains is the intrigue behind what is missing, which have many asking some fundamental questions:

  • What about the mysterious difference between positive cash flow and negative profits Eloqua reports in their registration?
  • How and when can Eloqua expect to be profitable?

David Raab has done a great job of unveiling some of the mystery of Eloqua’s expected profitability.

What do you think about Eloqua’s IPO filing? Who do you think would seek to acquire Eloqua? Who do you think will be next to file? Let us know what you think.