VMware IPO roars out of the gate

VMware stock rose to as high as $55 a share before settling down to just over $50, 72 percent higher than its starting price of $29

VMware, whose new VMW stock ticker symbol sounds remarkably like a luxury sports car, roared off the starting line in its first day as a public company Tuesday.

After about an hour of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, VMware stock rose to as high as $55 a share before settling down to just over $50, 72 percent higher than its starting price of $29, set by VMware Monday.

The company, a maker of virtualization software aimed at helping datacenters operate more efficiently, put 33 million shares on the market, which would yield $957 million at $29.

Virtualization software is designed to make a physical server act like multiple logical servers, improving server utilization by allowing IT managers to efficiently combine numerous computing resources on a single server.

VMware is talked about as one of the biggest IPOs (initial public offerings) of the year. It was founded in 1998 and was acquired by storage hardware vendor EMC in 2004 for $635 million. EMC decided earlier this year to sell 10 percent of VMware. The measured is designed to help EMC investors gain more value out of VMware and to provide stock-based compensation for VMware employees. However, EMC maintains majority ownership of VMware.

VMware holds an 85 percent share of the market for virtualization software and its sales rose 89 percent to $298 million in the second quarter of 2007, versus the year ago quarter, according to EMC's financial results.

VMware President Diane Greene banged the ceremonial gavel to open Tuesday's trading session at NYSE.