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On Wednesday, August 18, Axios hosted a virtual event discussing how and why companies go public. Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown and business editor Dan Primack hosted one-on-one conversations with Nasdaq Stock Exchange President Nelson Griggs, Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley, and Cooley Partner & Co-Chair of Global Capital Markets David Peinsipp.

Bill Gurley unpacked the marked increase in companies going public, the issues inherent in the traditional IPO process, and his take on SPACS.

  • On his problem with traditional IPOs: “We are using a remarkably un-innovative, unsophisticated process by which to price and allocate shares in the public markets, and it's gotten worse over the past 20 or 30 years.”

His thoughts on the rise of SPACs: “I think the whole reason the SPAC thing opened up is because of the broken IPO process. In 2020, the average IPO was underpriced by 50 percent…. We have the lowest interest rates of all time. Why would anyone subject themselves to a 50 percent cost of capital? That's what created this window for SPACS.”

Nelson Griggs discussed the new landscape for going public, shifts in the IPO process since the pandemic, and the health of the IPO market.

  • His thoughts on the new reasons for going public: “Companies are staying private a lot longer than they used to because there's very easy access to capital and liquidity as a private company. Companies used to go public for raising capital liquidity, but now it's more because of the brand. They want to be known as a public company.”
  • On the ways going public has changed since the pandemic: “One of the coolest parts about going public is when companies end up at Nasdaq and they ring the bell there.... Pre-pandemic that was reserved for maybe one or two hundred people…. We're seeing the ability to make this a much more inclusive event.”

Axios Chief Revenue Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Cooley partner and Global Capital Markets co-chair David Peinsipp, who discussed the current IPO market and predictions for the future of going public.

  • “This will go down as a banner year for capital markets all around, including IPOs. And the pipeline right now is about as strong as I've seen it, particularly in tech, life sciences and consumer. I expect all of those areas to really pop in the back half of this year and going into 2022.”

Thank you Cooley for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Desperate times for distressed investors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China’s Evergrande is giving hedge fund managers who invest in distressed situations what they’ve craved all year: a huge company with billions in debt trading at deeply discounted levels.

Yes, but: It’s a sign of the times that in order to access one of the only large distressed opportunities, they have to stretch into one of investing’s riskiest regions.

Exclusive: Battleground voters wary of Big Tech power

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A majority of voters in battleground districts and states agree Big Tech companies are monopolies with too much power, according to new data shared exclusively with Axios — but those same voters are divided on what Congress should do in response.

Why it matters: Lawmakers from both parties in the House have backed a package of proposed new laws to rein in tech firms' power.

Updated 5 mins ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.