Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997: The Challenges, Triumphs, and Failures

Written By Mike Munno

Updated November 8, 2023

Companies that had their IPO in 1997 will be remembered for centuries. The year 1997 marked a transformative period in the world of finance as several pioneering companies took their first steps into the public market through Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

The late 1990s were characterized by the dot-com boom, a period of significant speculation and investment in internet-related companies.

Many of the companies that went public in 1997 were part of this tech-centric wave. Investors were eager to put their money into internet startups, hoping for rapid growth and high returns.

Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997

While technology and internet companies were prominent, there was also diversification in sectors. Companies in industries like finance, retail, and travel also had notable IPOs. For example, TD Ameritrade and Vail Resorts went public in 1997.

These IPOs not only opened doors to fresh investment opportunities but also etched their names into the financial history books. Today, we'll discuss companies that had their IPO in 1997, exploring their significance in the financial world.

Notable Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997

  • Amazon
  • CarMax, Inc.
  • BEA Systems
  • J Trust Bank
  • NetBank
  • Ralph Lauren Corporation
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Vail Resorts, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN): Revolutionizing E-Commerce

On May 15, 1997,, Inc., led by visionary Jeff Bezos, made its debut on the Nasdaq Stock Market. What started as an online bookstore soon evolved into an e-commerce giant that would redefine how the world shops. Amazon's IPO raised approximately $54 million, and it quickly became a symbol of the internet's disruptive potential.

Amazon is perhaps the most famous of the companies that had their IPO in 1997. They could also very well be the most successful company to have their IPO in 1997, and made even the whole 1990's. But Jeff Bezos and Amazon didn't become a giant right after their IPO. Indeed, it took a little time.

Their journey from an online bookstore to a global marketplace is nothing short of remarkable. The company expanded its product offerings, introduced Amazon Prime, ventured into cloud computing with Amazon Web Services (AWS), and acquired companies like Whole Foods Market. 

Today, Amazon is a household name, with a market capitalization that rivals the largest corporations in the world. You can view our latest Amazon stock price prediction today and see how it's holding up. One thing is for sure, investing in Amazon in 1997 would have made you VERY rich. 

CarMax, Inc. (NYSE: KMX): Revolutionizing the Used Car Market

CarMax, Inc. entered the public market on February 5, 1997, with a unique approach to selling used cars. The company introduced a no-haggle pricing model and offered a wide selection of high-quality used vehicles, backed by rigorous inspections.

CarMax's IPO raised $50 million, and its success is rooted in providing a transparent, customer-centric car-buying experience.

Over the years, CarMax continued to innovate and expand its services. It introduced CarMax Auto Finance to facilitate financing for customers and explored additional revenue streams, such as extended warranties and service plans.

CarMax embraced e-commerce early on, allowing customers to browse its inventory and even purchase cars online. This digital presence played a crucial role in CarMax's ability to reach a broader audience.

CarMax's IPO marked the beginning of a journey that revolutionized the way Americans buy and sell used cars. Its innovative approach, commitment to quality, and dedication to providing exceptional customer experiences have been key drivers of its success. CarMax's growth and impact in automotive retail attest to disruptive business models and customer-centricity's enduring power.

Today, CarMax is a recognized leader in the used car industry, with a nationwide presence and a commitment to innovation in the automotive retail sector.

BEA Systems: A Phenom During the Dot-Com Bubble

BEA Systems conducted its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on April 29, 1997. This IPO was pivotal for the company and the late 1990s dot-com boom in the broader tech industry. The offering raised approximately $31 million, and it propelled BEA Systems into the ranks of publicly traded technology companies.

BEA Systems, Inc. was a notable software company that played a significant role in the enterprise software and middleware industry. It was headquartered in San Jose, California, and was founded in 1995 by Bill Coleman, Ed Scott, and Alfred Chuang. BEA Systems was known for its focus on developing software infrastructure products to help businesses manage and integrate their IT systems.

In 2008, BEA Systems was acquired by Oracle Corporation in a significant acquisition deal valued at approximately $8.5 billion. Oracle's acquisition of BEA Systems allowed it to strengthen its position in the middleware and enterprise software markets. BEA's technologies were integrated into Oracle's product portfolio, contributing to Oracle's offerings in areas such as application server technology and service-oriented architecture (SOA).

The BEA Systems acquisition firmly established Oracle as a major player in enterprise software and database management.

J Trust Bank (TSE: 8508): A Rising Star in Banking

On October 1, 1997, J Trust Bank entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange, marking a pivotal moment in the Japanese banking sector. The bank aimed to provide innovative financial solutions and challenge traditional banking practices.

J Trust Bank's IPO raised approximately $125 million, and the institution's focus on customer-centric banking and fintech innovations has contributed to its growth and prominence in the Japanese financial landscape. J Trust Bank, while less internationally known, has made significant strides in the Japanese banking sector.

The bank has made strategic investments in various industries, including real estate, fintech, and retail. These investments align with its goal of diversifying its revenue streams and expanding its presence in the Japanese financial services landscape. J Trust managed to survive both the tech boom and bust, as well as the banking collapse and financial crisis of 2007/2008.

NetBank, Inc.: A Digital Banking Pioneer

NetBank, Inc. was one of the early innovators in online banking, and it conducted its IPO in 1997. The company aimed to leverage the Internet to offer a wide range of financial services to customers, including online checking and savings accounts.

NetBank's IPO raised funds to support its digital banking vision. Despite post-IPO challenges, the company's pioneering efforts paved the way for online banking and fintech industry evolution.

The challenges NetBank faced came mostly from the regulatory environment governing online banks. The evolving regulatory landscape for online banking and concerns about financial security presented challenges for the institution.

The Office of Thrift Supervision shut down NetBank, Inc. in September 2007, placing its assets in receivership. NetBank's closure signaled early challenges and vulnerabilities for online banks during the U.S. housing market and 2008 financial crises.

Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE: RL): A Fashion Icon Goes Public

Ralph Lauren Corporation, the fashion powerhouse founded by Ralph Lauren, conducted its IPO on June 12, 1997. The company's vision of timeless, American-inspired fashion resonated with consumers around the world.

Ralph Lauren's IPO raised approximately $88 million, and the brand has since become synonymous with luxury and style. The company's portfolio includes clothing, accessories, fragrances, and home furnishings, and its influence extends beyond fashion to lifestyle.

RL operates flagship stores in prominent global cities, including New York City, London, Paris, and Tokyo. The brand often showcases these flagship locations for its latest collections and designs.

Ralph Lauren, like many fashion brands, has grappled with adapting to changing consumer preferences, digital commerce, and shifting retail dynamics. The Ralph Lauren Corporation, with its enduring commitment to classic American style and design, remains a prominent and influential player in the fashion industry. 

Ralph Lauren's dedication to quality, timeless fashion, and philanthropy has left an indelible mark on the fashion world, symbolizing American luxury and style.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: AMTD): Empowering Investors

TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, a pioneer in online brokerage services, entered the public market on March 25, 1997. The company aimed to provide individual investors with access to stock trading and investment tools through its online platform.

TD Ameritrade's $27 million IPO bolstered its position as a leading player in the online brokerage industry, driven by a commitment to democratizing investing. In November 2019, Charles Schwab Corporation announced its intention to acquire TD Ameritrade in a landmark merger that would create one of the largest brokerage firms in the United States.

The merger was completed in October 2020, with TD Ameritrade becoming part of Charles Schwab. As a result, TD Ameritrade accounts and services were transitioned to Charles Schwab's platform.

TD Ameritrade's legacy is tied to its role in the online brokerage industry, democratizing investing by providing easy access to financial markets for millions of individual investors. Its educational resources and user-friendly platforms helped empower investors to take control of their financial futures. While the name TD Ameritrade may have faded due to the merger, its impact on the world of online investing and trading continues to influence the industry.

Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN): Elevating the Ski Industry

Vail Resorts, Inc., a company focused on owning and operating ski resorts, conducted its IPO on February 3, 1997. The company's portfolio includes some of the most iconic ski destinations in North America.

Vail Resorts was founded in 1957 by Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton. The founders shared a vision of creating a world-class ski resort in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, which led to the development of Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado.

Vail Resorts' IPO raised approximately $126 million, and the company's commitment to providing exceptional skiing and mountain resort experiences has solidified its position as a leader in the industry. Vail Resorts has also embraced sustainability and environmental stewardship in its operations.

The company prioritizes sustainability in its corporate responsibility, aiming for zero net emissions and zero waste to landfill by 2030.

Final Word on Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997

The year 1997 saw a remarkable cohort of companies making their initial public offerings, each with a unique vision and impact on the financial world. Companies that had their IPO in 1997 took part in a historic moment of time.

These companies have redefined their industries, leaving an indelible mark on e-commerce, automotive retail, apparel manufacturing, and online banking.

Amazon, CarMax, BEA Sytems, J Trust Bank, NetBank, Ralph Lauren, TD Ameritrade, and Vail Resorts represent a diverse range of sectors, but they share a common thread of innovation, customer-centricity, and a commitment to excellence.

As we look back on the companies that had their IPO in 1997, we see a testament to the power of entrepreneurship, vision, and adaptability. These companies not only shaped their industries but also contributed to the broader landscape of financial wellness, offering consumers new ways to shop, invest, and experience the world.

Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997

Their journeys serve as inspirations for future entrepreneurs and investors, reminding us that bold ideas, dedication to customer satisfaction, and a pioneering spirit can lead to enduring success in the dynamic world of finance. These companies are not just symbols of the past; they continue to thrive and evolve, demonstrating that their influence is far from over, and they remain vital players in the global economy.

Please note, that the companies mentioned above are not ALL of the companies that had their IPO in 1997. To view the full list of companies that had their IPO in 1997, please see below. 

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Companies That Had Their IPO in 1997 – Full List

  • 8×8
  • A.C. Moore
  • Alexandria Real Estate Equities
  • Alumindo Light Metal Industry
  • Amazon
  • American Capital
  • Annaly Capital Management
  • Antam
  • Arlington Asset Investment
  • Astra Agro Lestari
  • BEA Systems
  • Boston Properties
  • Bright Horizons
  • C.H. Robinson
  • CarMax
  • Chicago Bridge & Iron Company
  • The Childen's Place
  • Ciena 
  • CIT Group
  • Coldwater Creek
  • Denbury Resources
  • Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group
  • EarthLink
  • EPR Properties
  • Eurofins Scientific
  • Famous Dave's
  • FranklinCovey
  • General Cigar Company
  • Genesys
  • Helios and Matheson Analytics
  • Hisense
  • Insperity
  • J Trust Bank
  • Kofax
  • LHS Telekommunikation
  • Meade Instruments
  • MNC Asia Holding
  • NetBank
  • Network Solutions
  • Noritsu
  • Petra Diamonds
  • Prologis
  • QAD Inc.
  • Ralph Lauren Corporation
  • Rambus
  • Randgold Resources
  • Reckitt
  • SL Green Realty
  • Surya Semesta Internusa
  • Syntel, Inc.
  • Take-Two Interactive
  • TD Ameritrade
  • TiVo Corporation
  • TradeStation
  • TV Azteca
  • UBM Technology Group
  • United Rentals
  • USWeb
  • Vail Resorts
  • Vericel
  • Yahoo! Japan
  • ZTE

That concludes our article on companies that had their IPO in 1997. Hopefully, the stories of these companies will help you to identify high-quality IPOs in the future. If you're still bummed you missed out on the Amazon IPO, I wouldn't stress too much. In fact, there is a way for you to capitalize on Amazon without owning a single share of the company. Jason Williams calls it "Prime Profits."

To learn more about Prime Profits and how you can get paid by Amazon without owning a single share, simply click here

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