While the IPO market remains healthy, the same can't be said of the financial statements of some newly public companies, including Snap and Box, a cloud-computing firm that debuted in 2015.
Both firms had operating losses that exceeded revenue at the time of their IPOs, a sign of how much investment their business models require.
Twitter also posted a string of losing quarters before its 2013 offering and still trades below its IPO price. It has never posted a quarterly profit.
The board of Snap in 2015 paid a $750 million bonus to CEO Evan Spiegel as an incentive to move the company into the public markets.
Less than two years later Spiegel did agree to IPO, but only after he and fellow co-founder Robert Murphy pushed through a share structure that gives IPO investors no voting rights.
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Google (now part of parent company Alphabet) and Facebook also have dual-class share structures that insulate founding executives from agitation by activist shareholders.
But those two companies also were earning income at the time they went public.
The ability of today's tech firms to raise money on terms less attractive to investors is a sign of how the balance of power has changed between Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
In the days when the market valuation of the tech industry was dominated by companies selling to other companies — Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and so on — IPOs gave young tech companies not only cash but a stamp of legitimacy.
Yet private companies that target consumers and already have well-known brand names — like Uber and Airbnb — don't need that imprimatur of legitimacy or publicity.
"For a long time, most software companies that went public were cash-flow positive; they didn't need the money," said David Golden, a managing partner at tech investing firm Revolution Ventures in San Francisco.
By stark contrast, Uber and Lyft — like Snap — are hemorrhaging money.
"There was a badge of honor associated with going public," Golden said. "That's kind of gone now."
For all its warts, though, the much-maligned IPO will survive because it gives both sides of the transaction what they want.
Sellers get cash and liquidity, and buyers get a chance to earn market-beating returns.
Indeed, the IPO may even entice some of the very companies that have so far kept it at arm's length.
In an increasingly competitive global tech market, where rivals are now coming from not only the United States and Europe but also Asia, an IPO is "still the best way to create liquidity for employees and early investors," Levchin said. He helped found PayPal in 1998 and sold his gaming company, Slide, to Google for $228 million in 2010.
"I'm a big believer in transparency. ... Why not show your numbers?" he asked.
"We probably will (IPO) eventually," Levchin said.
— CNBC reporter Ari Levy also contributed to this report.