The first Silicon Valley tech company to go public in 2013 pronounces its name 'zoom,' and that's just what shares of San Francisco-based Xoom did on Friday.

The online money-transfer company priced its initial public offering at $16 a share Thursday night -- $1 higher than the top of its earlier range. When the stock began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "XOOM" Friday morning, shares immediately jumped to $21, but that ended up being their lowest price of the day: Xoom closed at $25.10, a gain of nearly 60 percent from the IPO price.

In an interview, CEO John Kunze pronounced himself "thrilled" by the milestone, while adding that it had taken the company a decade to reach it.

Xoom, cofounded in 2001 by early PayPal investor Kevin Hartz, updates the traditional model of sending money to people in foreign countries, bringing in mobile phones and the Web.

Rather than walking into Western Union to wire money home, immigrants can log onto Xoom.com and send money to 30 countries on six continents. Cash is wired from a bank account; the recipient, who's usually notified of the transfer via text message, can withdraw the cash at participating stores or banks or even have it delivered to his or her home.

Wall Street has been notoriously hard on consumer Internet companies since Facebook's IPO pratfall, but on Friday it appeared to share Kunze's enthusiasm. The IPO valued Xoom at more than $500 million; the company sold 5.2 million shares in the offering, with another 1.1 million coming from early investors.

One payments-industry expert, however, cautioned that entrenched players Western Union and MoneyGram won't easily cede their dominance of the overseas-remittance business, which by some estimates is an $82 billion annual market.

Noting that big banks have tried and failed to break off a piece of that action, Beth Robertson, an analyst with Javelin Strategy and Research in Baltimore, said she saw Xoom as more likely a niche player.

But Kunze and Hartz argued that the fees Xoom charges are far less onerous than those assessed by legacy competitors. In most of its markets, the company charges a flat rate of $4.99; it also charges a foreign exchange fee between 1 and 2 percent.

In the past five years, customers have used the platform to send $6.6 billion, with nearly half of that transmitted last year. That helped Xoom post $80 million in revenue in 2012, though the business is not yet profitable.

Kunze, who took Plum Tree Software public before selling it to BEA Systems for $200 million in 2005, noted that 90 percent of Xoom's revenue comes from existing customers -- a sign that users like the service and are loyal to it.

San Hamadeh, CEO of financial analysis firm PrivCo, said that helped boost Wall Street's confidence in the company's ability to keep delivering results.

That said, Xoom's IPO filing warned that the company faces a thicket of international regulations that govern money transfers. In addition, criminals or terrorists might use the service and scare off legitimate customers.

Kunze said Xoom has spent years building "sophisticated risk-management systems" that can spot most potential fraud.

In addition, he noted, the 150-person company does not accept cash; almost all its transactions are funded via the U.S. banking system, which screens account holders to spot potential terrorists and money launderers.

Hartz has admitted that despite his experience watching PayPal get started, he was unprepared at first for the stringent regulatory challenges Xoom would face. It was due in part to those challenges that the company's board decided a more veteran hand was needed at the helm.

Kunze, who had been brought onto the board by venture firm Sequoia Capital, became CEO; Hartz later left the company, although he remains on its board and owns more than 4 percent of its shares.

"You feel like the pitcher who wants to stay in the game, but my arm was tired, and it was time to bring somebody else in," he said Friday.

Hartz now runs another high-profile startup, Eventbrite, which helps people plan events; he said the company will process nearly $1 billion in ticket sales this year.

He's also quietly emerged as one of Silicon Valley's most influential angel investors, having put early money into Pinterest, Airbnb and Trulia, among others.

Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak