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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public market investors have come to view most IPOs through rose-tinted pandemic lenses: Either an issuer benefitted from lockdowns and will hold onto those new customers or the issuer will benefit from widespread vaccine distribution.

Yes, but: Things will return to normal, but the path will be up and to the right. One thing that's changed permanently, however, is the IPO process itself, as the traditional "road show" is dead and buried.

  • In the past, top company executives and their bankers would hop a private plane for a weeklong trip across the country, meeting with groups of large institutional investors in top hotels.
  • But in 2020 those meetings have gone virtual, due to the pandemic. Not only have U.S. IPOs not missed a beat, they're on track for one of their busiest years in history.

Bankers tell me that virtual meetings have enabled companies to engage in deeper and more numerous investor meetings, enhancing the process. Some CEOs and investors may miss the more tactile experience, but the trade-off has been worthwhile.

  • Consensus is that post-pandemic IPO processes may again include physical stops in Boston and New York City, plus perhaps San Francisco for local companies, but that will be it.
  • Smaller investor markets, like Philly, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Dallas will be done remote.

The bottom line: The year's biggest IPO innovation may be sitting on the living room couch, not hybrid listings.

Go deeper

SPAC avalanche does some good

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An avalanche of special purpose acquisition companies — better known as SPACs — raised capital this year to help startups bypass the lengthy and difficult IPO process.

Why it matters: Having more public companies is widely viewed as healthy for the markets and for the American economy, even if the SPAC path elicited skepticism and accusations of froth.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.