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Castlight Health Inc. CEO Giovanni Colella celebrates his company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Reuters/Brendan McDermid (
Happiness is a hot IPO.

Behold the biggest day-one tech IPO pops—and busts—of 2014

The first half of 2014 saw a parade of tech IPOs trying to capitalize on frothy investor sentiment—or at least, frothy until it fizzled in mid-March.

Here’s a look at the best and worst first-day returns for companies that went public during the first half of the year, according to Renaissance Capital. The leading example of the tech IPO frothiness was Castlight Health, in March. The cloud-based medical document company watched its shares surge (or “pop”) 149% on the first day of trading. That pushed the company—which had reported a mere $13 million in revenue in 2013—to a valuation of more than $3 billion.

But Castlight shone only briefly. Its valuation plunged in subsequent days of trading. Shares are now trading at about 6% below its $16 offering price.

Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that Castlight’s deal marked the peak of this resurgence, after which tech stocks tanked later in March and April. Most of the better first-day performers were in the early part of the year. The IPOs of Varonis Systems, and, which along with Castlight had four of the five biggest pops, all unfurled between January and March.

Meanwhile the worst first-day performer was mobile TV app Viggle, which had the misfortune of launching in late April as the markets were spiraling lower.

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