There are 3 ways that a company can go public: a traditional IPO, a Dutch auction (Google being the prime example), or a direct listing.
Between the lines: There's a catch with direct listings, however: The way that SEC regulations are currently set up, companies can't raise any money that way. The question, asks Axios' Dan Primack, is whether that can change, with corporations issuing stock into a direct listing. His answer: Yes, probably.
- The highest hurdle would be finding a company that wants to do it. Most companies don't want the hassle of working out all the complications with SEC officials.
- The most likely candidate: Airbnb is going public in the next year, more likely in Q1 2020 than in Q4 2019. It's unclear whether CFO Dave Stephenson has the appetite to blaze a new trail.
The bottom line: Just because it can be done doesn't mean it will be done. VC-backed unicorns rarely extend their "disruption" philosophy to their own securities.
- Creating the perfect IPO (Dan Primack, Axios)
- Slack: Direct listings are a bit more like IPOs than you think (Mark Baker, Euromoney)