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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

1 hour ago - World

U.S. drone strike victims' families in Afghanistan seek compensation

A relative of Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, looks at the wreckage of a vehicle that was damaged in the strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi AFP via Getty Images

Relatives of 10 Afghans killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month said Saturday they want to see punishment and compensation over the deaths.

Driving the news: The relatives said it's "good news" that the U.S. had "officially admitted" that "they had attacked innocents" in the Aug. 29 strike that killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker with a U.S.-based group, and nine family members, but they still need "justice," per AFP.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
5 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.