The IPO market has raised nearly $300 billion with more than 900 companies going public this year, after the list of public companies in the U.S. shrank for two decades, reports The Wall Street Journal. Now that list stands at over 4000 for the first time in over 10 years. From a surge in cash from the federal government to the quest for new and bigger returns in an era of ultra-low interest rates, there was a range of reasons for the phenomenon, which could change the ways in which some U.S. companies operate, the article contends.
Publicly traded companies are more transparent and give more access to small investors, though some believe that relying more on public markets could put a damper on innovation. Still, the shift to public markets was a surprise to many experts, The Journal reports. Private equity firms and venture capitalists spent decades cannibalizing the IPO market, but now they’re driving it, along with individual investors who favor trading apps that cater to younger, more antiestablishment clients. However, the article continues, many of those clients are too young to remember the last time going public was this cool: the Dotcom boom of the late 90s. After that bust, the public market lost their shine, which continued to dim following reporting regulations in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals.
It wasn’t until this year that the pendulum swung back to favor for public companies, and even traditional IPOs are more popular than ever. Those offerings have raised $147 billion so far this year, cresting on a wave of enthusiasm for socially responsible and health-conscious companies such as Chobani Inc. Many of the best, most well-known brands belong to public companies.
However, some IPOs stumbled this year, dipping below their initial price in the weeks and months after going public; Robinhood Markets Inc. now sits below its IPO price after going public this summer, as did Chinese ride-hailing titan Didi Global Inc. And several IPOs were postponed in October, with the SEC questioning the pie-in-the-sky projections used by startups that are merging with SPACs.
In yet another twist to the IPO roller coaster, some public companies are reverting to private, such as mattress maker Casper Sleep. But many close to the IPO market say that its heyday isn’t done. Purchasing IPOs is still a good way for fund managers to outperform the broader market. And companies can retain talent by offering stock incentives. As ZoomInfo Technologies Inc. CEO Henry Schuck—whose company went public last year—put it, “It’s cool to be public.”