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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.

Updated 10 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"