Braze valued at $8 bln as shares jump in Nasdaq debut

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Shares of Braze Inc (BRZE.O) opened 34% above the offer price in their market debut on Wednesday, fetching a valuation of nearly $8 billion for the New York-based customer engagement platform.

The listing comes amid a slew of strong debuts from the software and technology sector, with companies riding on strong interest from market participants who anticipate benefits from the accelerated shift in consumer behavior toward digital and mobile transactions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Braze sold 8 million shares in its offering, along with certain selling stockholders, to raise $520 million. Before the IPO, Braze's last private fundraising took place over three years ago, when it raised $80 million at a valuation of $850 million.

As of July-end this year, the decade-old company had 1,119 customers around the world, it disclosed in its filing earlier, up from 890 at January-end.

"We will continue to expand the company to take advantage of the huge addressable market, and the scrutiny of the public market is something that has been a kind of focusing point for the company for quite a while," Chief Executive Officer Bill Magnuson said.

Notable customers include Germany's online Delivery Hero (DHER.DE), consumer finance firm Credit Sesame and PayPal Holdings Inc's (PYPL.O) peer-to-peer payment service Venmo, among others.

Braze says its platform allows its clients to get a better understanding of consumer behaviors and plan their marketing strategies accordingly. It competes with software giants like Adobe Inc (ADBE.O) and Inc (CRM.N), and also with other companies in the space like Airship, Iterable, Leanplum, MailChimp and MoEngage.

Braze's stock opened at $87.20 per share, up from the initial public offering price of $65 per share.

Goldman Sachs & Co, J.P. Morgan and Barclays were the lead underwriters for the offering.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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