Many start-ups with big names and even bigger valuations are planning to go public in 2019.
Lyft, Slack, Pinterest and Postmates have already filed. Uber and Airbnb are expected to join before the end of the year. But even with this anticipated consumer tech IPO bonanza, there is strong evidence that the traditional IPO is dying. These companies themselves have stayed private longer than they have in previous decades. And instead of chasing a listing on public markets, the next batch of superstar start-ups are likely to stay private longer.
Amazon went public at a $500 million valuation, and the public could benefit from its high-growth early days. Facebook went public at $100 billion. While the public has been able to benefit from Facebook's ~5x growth since IPO, they were locked out from accruing the 100x gains of that $1 billion to $100 billion growth curve.
Companies used to race to IPO — the start-ups of the early 2000s considered going public the ultimate marker of success and the best way to create value for founders, employees and investors. But venture capital dollars are so plentiful and terms are so beneficial today that the race to IPO has slowed to a crawl.
Carta data from more than 6,000 primary financing rounds raised by 4,500 U.S.-based, venture-backed companies over the last four years show that more money was raised per round in 2018 than in 2017. Valuations increased at all stages of a company's lifecycle, and Series D valuations (which are given to later-stage companies) increased by a whopping 128 percent. Moreover, when these later-stage companies raised money in 2018, they gave away less of the company despite receiving record-high valuations.
These positive trends in private company valuations mean companies don't need to go public to access capital. They also have more options to create liquidity for employees, further reducing the need to go public.