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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

  • Other companies expected to complete IPOs before Christmas include fintech Affirm, gaming platform Roblox and e-commerce company Wish.

State of play: There are over 500 "unicorns," or upstart companies that are valued at $1 billion or more by venture capitalists, according to CB Insights. More than half of those are based in the U.S., and around two dozen are valued at more than $5 billion.

  • Among some of the better known names are ByteDance (owner of TikTok), SpaceX, Instacart, Epic Games (maker of Fortnite), Coinbase and Stripe.
  • Then there are the lesser-known cloud software companies seeking to become the next DataDog or Snowflake — valued at a combined $4.6 billion entering 2020, now trading with combined market cap of $130 billion.

"The real story of 2020 is that it's just the preview for 2021, especially if there's a vaccine and the economy roars back," a tech IPO banker tells Axios.

  • Another banker, this one based in San Francisco, adds that he regularly participates in multiple "bake-offs" on the same day for large tech IPOs.

There's also been a recent boom in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which represent another way for startups to go public — including those that might not be ready to do a traditional IPO, like many of the uncommercialized electric vehicle makers.

  • Most of the SPACs formed in 2020 will seek out targets in 2021.

The bottom line: There used to be only a handful of unicorn IPOs per year, due to a limited pipeline, making each one a major Wall Street event. Those days are over.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 14, 2021 - Economy & Business

Venture capital's record-smashing year

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Just weeks into the pandemic, we reported that venture capitalists were still doing deals, even though their offices were closed and their flights were canceled. But we didn't quite foresee the WFH gusto.

Driving the news: U.S.-based venture capital hit an all-time record in 2020.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.