It’s a buzzword we hear constantly—and one that’s sure to generate tons of headlines. Alibaba had the largest in history (before its billionaire founder decided he wanted to quit to be a grade school teacher.)
Lyft IPO’d recently also, beating arch rival Uber to the proverbial punch.
Other than being a buzzword and a big story, what exactly is an IPO?! Well, let’s break it down.
What is an IPO?!
In technical terms, an Initial Public Offering (IPO) is the first sale of stock issued by a company to the public. In other words, this is the moment when a private company goes “public” by offering its shares for sale to the public.
So when a company does go public, the valuation usually spikes dramatically—and the company can now use the funds from the sale of shares to feed the business. It’s a fabulous funding source for a company.
Before that, what is a company?
Prior to going public, a company is a privately-owned firm. Obviously. The company initially attracts investments or seed capital from the co-founder, friends, and families.
Business investors such as venture capitalists, private equity companies and angel investors pump in money if they are optimistic about long-term prospects and sustainability of the company.
On the flip side of things, you sometimes have companies that decide to go “private,” like Elon Musk said he wanted to do with Tesla.
Why does a company opt for an IPO?
The biggest advantage for a publicly listed company is access to capital. This capital can be used to purchase machinery, fund research and development or pay off any existing debt.
The firm will then be listed on a public exchange and provides an exit route for business investors and founders.
When Facebook went public, Mark Zuckerberg sold 30M shares worth $1.1B. An IPO is the most common way for investors and VCs to make a significant return on their investment. In fact, it’s considered the ultimate exit for founders.
How much capital do the companies get?
Let’s run down the list.
Top tech unicorns such as Uber, Slack, and Airbnb are on course to file for an IPO over the next 18 months.
The company that is looking to go public hires an investment bank to underwriting the IPO process. Investment banks can either work together or individually in this process.
What do the investment bankers do?
In other words, all the boring admin stuff. In exchange for this, they collect a nice fat fee, usually anywhere from 4-7% of gross proceeds.
Those involved hold several meetings to finalize the IPO process and determine the timing of the filing. Once this is wrapped up, they shift to performing the due diligence to ensure the company’s registration statements are accurate.
The due diligence tasks include market due diligence, legal and IP due diligence, financial and tax due diligence. At the end of this process, the companies then file for an S-1 Registration Statement.
The S-1 is usually what tips off the press and the public that a company is about to go, well, public.
And what’s the S-1?
The S-1 statement includes information about the companies’ historical financial statements, company overview, risk factors, and other critical data.
A pre-IPO analyst meeting is then held post the S-1 Registration Statement to educate analysts and bankers about the company.
A preliminary prospectus can also be drafted at this stage. The underwriting investment bank conducts pre-marketing to determine the interest of institutional investors and the price they are willing to pay per share.
Now you’re ready to go public
The price range for an IPO is set and the S-1 Registration Statement is amended with the price range. The company’s management organizes road shows and marketing activities to generate interest for the upcoming IPO.
Based on investor interest, the price range per share can be revised. The investors will apply for company shares and this application window is open for generally 2-4 days. The company shares can be oversubscribed or undersubscribed.
Once the IPO is priced, the investment banks will allocate shares to investors where the stock will now be available for trading in the secondary market.
At this point, a company is now ready to go public. Here’s how people usually look when that happens.
Congrats. You’re now an IPO expert.
VIDEO: How Far Does $150K A Year Get You In New York City?
No matter what metric or list you look at, it goes without saying: New York City is one of the most expensive places in the world to live in.
In this video, CNBC spoke to a Millennial who runs her own brand consulting agency and wants to #WealthHACK her way to retirement by 40.
She makes $150K a year. But how far does that actually get her? Check it out.
How to Create A Financial Roadmap: Investing In A Volatile Market
The market has been heading up, up and away for so long that many investors may not remember (or even experienced in some cases) what it was like to invest during times of extreme volatility. However, the bull market has to end sometime—and probably for longer than a single quarter like we saw at the end of last year.
So how do you go about making investment decisions when it becomes very challenging to find positive returns? It can be tempting to switch out your entire portfolio when there’s a sudden change, but that may not be the wisest move. Before making any changes, you should consult your financial roadmap, and if you don’t have one, then now is an excellent time to make one. The Securities and Exchange Commission advises investors to look at their entire financial picture before making any big changes. This step-by-step guide will help you get everything down on paper.
#1. Set goals
To start creating your financial roadmap, write down any goals that you have. Perhaps you want to purchase a new home in 10 years. You’ll also want to determine when you want to retire, although this age could change over time if you discover that you can’t retire as early as you want to. Decide what types of things you want to save money for, whether it’s a new home or car, an education, retirement, medical bills, a “rainy day” fund, or anything else.
Don’t forget to set timelines for each goal so you have an idea of when you might be able to achieve these goals realistically. The SEC has a number of calculators and other financial tools to help you set realistic timelines for your goals.
#2. Look at your current financial picture.
Most investors already know the basics, but pulling everything together into a roadmap might seem a bit overwhelming because it can be so easy to forget something. Even though you may think you know everything you need to know about your current financial picture, just having all of it down on paper will help you get organized.
Make a list of all your liabilities and assets, including individual holdings in your portfolio[s]. List all your checking and savings accounts and their balances, the cash value of your life insurance policies, real estate, home, retirement accounts and other investments, and any personal property. Knowing which stocks or other assets you have money in can make it easier to decide where you want to move your money when the market turns.
On the liability side, list your mortgage, credit card and bank loan balances, car loans, student loans, and any other liabilities. Add up your assets and liabilities and subtract your liabilities from your assets to see your net worth. If you have a negative net worth, you can start making plans to get on track. The Foundation for Financial Planning has some excellent worksheets to help you get started with making your lists so you don’t forget anything.
#3. Consider your risk tolerance before making any changes.
After you’ve made a list of all your investments and assets, it’s time to think about your risk tolerance. As the winds of the market shift around, risk sentiment will move as well. There is no such thing as an investment that is 100% safe.
A good guideline for determining the best mix of risk in your investments is to subtract your age from 120 and put that percentage of your portfolio in stocks and the other percent in bonds. For example, a 40-year-old would put 80% of their portfolio in stocks and the remaining 20% in bonds.
Of course, there are many other asset classes to consider too, and picking stocks is literally a full-time job. Thus, you may want to consider an index fund for your stock holdings if you just want to set it and forget it. However, if you want to take on a bit more risk in part of your portfolio, there are many actively managed funds with excellent track records to take the guesswork out of stock picking.
As you’re setting out all your investments and thinking about making changes, make sure your portfolio is properly diversified so that when one asset falls, another one gains to make up for the loss in the other one. Think over every potential change carefully before making a move to avoid unnecessary turnover and fees associated with trading.
The SEC also has a handy guide here which explains more about investing and creating a financial roadmap.
CNBC: Here’s Why WeWork Wants To Go Public
News broke recently that WeWork’s going public in September. In this video, CNBC breaks down why they’re going public.
Before you watch, though, here’s some context.
WeWork’s recent S-1 filing — the paperwork you file with the SEC right before you go public — had the entire internet up in arms, including ourselves, trying to decode how the heck WeWork justifies its insane valuation.
Considering, ya know, IWG, a direct competitor, has nearly double the revenue, five times the members, is $2.5B ahead on the bottom line and…well, you can sort of see where this is going.
Despite earning an insane $47B valuation this year, it’s bleeding dough. Yes, WeWork grossed $1.8B in 2018…but it also lost $1.9B.
Be that as it may, WeWork is going public this year (via parent company “The We Company”), the latest in a string of high-profile tech IPOs in 2019.
And speaking of tech. Despite numerous “tech” mentions in the S-1, critics are claiming WeWork is little more than a real estate company.
As far as the We losses go, CFO Artie Minson told CNBC that investors need not worry about those grim financials, but instead to look at WeWork’s losses as “investments” that will lead to greater cash flow. (Which is very possible.)
And even if short-term losses eventually unearth long-term cash flows, will they be enough to justify its lofty valuation…and even loftier ambitions?
While we’re waiting for time to tell on WeWork’s future, if you’re looking to raise your startup game right now, go check out our content partner More Labs’ brand-new drink Aqua+. (Yes, the same More Labs behind this drink that broke the internet.)