Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google are routinely vilified for abusing their vast power.

Their immense reach and intrusion into people's daily digital lives has sparked a backlash from consumers and regulators concerned about the exploitation of data.

But these technology behemoths didn't always rouse such disdain.

In fact, it wasn't so long ago that they were championed as hot-houses of innovation, ingenuity and invention.


Their rapid rise demonstrated to anyone daring to dream it was possible to quickly turn an idea hatched in a Harvard or Stanford University dorm room into a billion-dollar product.

Facebook and Google, together with fellow tech monoliths Apple, Amazon and Netflix, also went on to go public and have delivered enviable returns to investors.

This quintet, dubbed the FAANG stocks, are some of the largest and closely watched equities on the US markets.

Apple and Google's parent Alphabet have since become the two biggest companies on the S&P 500, with Amazon and Facebook close behind.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has no such technology firms leading its exchange, which, other than A2 milk, is dominated by blue chip stocks.

The NZX did, of course, have Xero but the accounting software maker deserted our local bourse for its counterpart across the Tasman.

Xero's success and investors' appetite for the stock helped spark a wave of technology listings in 2013 and 2014.

That group's performance, though, has been mixed. Shares in Serko are trading at record highs as the online travel booking software developer plans for a secondary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange.


Utilities software developer Software developer Gentrack is also performing strongly, with its shares up some 57 per cent from this time last year.

Orion Health shares, however, touched an all-time low last month after it missed its sales forecasts and pushed out plans to break even. Its share price has sunk by close to 88 per cent from the $5.70 a share at its listing.

Shares in IkeGPS, Sli Systems and GeoOp are also trading below their IPO price (and the less said about Wynyard Group the better).

Out of this group, there hardly seems a contender to replace Xero, which, as well as being among the top 10 largest companies on the NZX, was a cheerleader for startups going public.

There's no shortage of smart Kiwi companies building great products and services and it's vital that these young, fast-growing businesses aspire to list if New Zealand is to end its drought of IPOs.

The public route, no doubt, is a challenging one. The vast majority of tech startup companies fail or flounder and being listed means that it happens out in the open.

But if startups can't be convinced of the benefits of going public, then the bulk will continue to be bought up by overseas giants or private equity.

One of the most obvious ways we can embolden them to do that is to have a hero — a company like Xero who can champion their sector at the top-end of the exchange.

It's time for New Zealand to grow some FAANGs — our own big, publicly-listed tech companies that will inspire startups to not only succeed, but to do so on the capital markets.

Hamish Fletcher is the Herald's business editor