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Benchmark's Bill Gurley. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Venture capital's call for more direct listings is growing louder with a group of big-name investors and tech company executives expected to attend a private, invite-only "symposium" on the matter next month at a hotel in San Francisco.

Why it matters: There's a growing investor consensus that the traditional VC-backed IPO process is antiquated and broken — too often benefiting a high-net-worth bank clients and a small pool of mutual and hedge funds, at the expense of issuers.

Details: Among those expected to speak are Benchmark's Bill Gurley, who's been banging this drum for a while, Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz, who just wrote about direct listings in the FT, and Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy, whose company went public via a direct listing last year.

  • Jay Ritter, a University of Florida professor who's also slated to speak at the private event, released data in April showing that the "under-pricing" phenomena is accelerating for VC-backed IPOs.
  • He reported at least $6 billion in net under-priced dollars at the time, versus $16.1 billion for 2017-2018 combined.
  • He's also found that average first day returns for offerings led by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are 33.5% and 29.2%, respectively, higher than for other underwriters.

Our thought bubble: We last discussed this situation in June, around the Slack direct listing, and argued that investors should work with the SEC to create a hybrid structure whereby companies could both list directly and raise new capital.

  • That still hasn't happened.
  • On the other hand, we've heard that law firm Latham & Watkins, which worked on both Slack and Spotify, has drafted a pre-IPO conversion term sheet that could help issuers raise simultaneous capital at a slight discount to the direct listing price.

The bottom line: Venture capitalists regularly congregate at industry conferences in resort towns, but rarely self-organize for the sake of knowledge-sharing and next-step action. Next month's event will be an exception, suggesting that the startup IPO scene could soon undergo a sea change.

Go deeper

Updated 53 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

3 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.