The IPO market has had a tough year in 2015. Will the number of companies choosing to go public pick up next year?
Investors may finally be running out of patience with the growing number of companies choosing to stay private rather than enter the public markets.
At least, that’s what analysts predict will happen next year after a dismal year for initial public offers in 2015.
Companies going public raised $30 billion this year, according to a report from IPO research firm Renaissance Capital — a six-year low. The 169 offerings this year compares with 275 IPOs that raised $85.3 billion in 2014.
Much of the slow activity stems from the relative warmth of the private markets. Investors are pouring larger and larger amounts of money into private companies, so businesses figure there’s not much incentive to go public and be subject to wider scrutiny.
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That affects growing tech companies in particular. In 2015, tech companies in the U.S. raised $8.1 billion through IPOs, compared with $20 billion through private investments during just the first half of the year, according to a report released this week from Ernst & Young.
“There is an abundance of capital available from many sources that’s extending the runway for companies that may have considered an IPO,” said Jackie Kelley, EY’s Americas IPO Markets Leader. “The good news is that many of these companies are not as mature and they benefit by being able to stay private longer … to mature their businesses.”
This year is slower than last year, but it’s average when you look at the past five years’ IPO activity, she noted.
A report from research firm CB Insights indicates the market may start heating up next year, largely a result of investors’ urging companies to take the public plunge.
“Given how bad 2015 was, the reality is it couldn’t get worse,” CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal said in a statement.
In its annual “Tech IPO Pipeline Report,” CB Insights listed the companies it believes have the momentum and financial strength to go public in 2016. That pipeline is strong. The 531 U.S. companies it listed have raised a combined $89.03 billion. Many will choose to stay private, but some may be “forced” to go public, the report suggests, because the private markets will decide they have raised quite enough private money.
“I’m pretty optimistic for the first half of the year,” Kelley said. “There is lots of great activity happening in the consumer-product sector, in technology, and lots and lots of activity across multiple sectors.”
CB Insights does not publish the full list of pipeline companies but said that 15 Washington state companies are included. The firm named five of those — and most have been on similar lists kept by investors, research firms and journalists for several years in a row: Redfin, Apptio, Inrix, Avvo and Skytap. They’re joined by DocuSign and Cyanogen, which were both founded in Seattle and are now based in California. The state ranked fifth in the nation for number of companies in the pipeline; California led with 291.
The list is largely dominated by hot San Francisco and Silicon Valley companies including software infrastructure company Nutanix, delivery service Postmates, Uber and Airbnb.
Here’s a look at the local companies that may be the region’s first technology IPO in more than a year.
Redfin: The Seattle online real-estate brokerage has been rumored to be working on an IPO for nearly four years. The 13-year-old company raised a $70.9 million round in December, 2014, bringing its total funding to $166.6 million.
Apptio: The Bellevue business-software company is another company watched closely for years. The company, founded by serial entrepreneur Sunny Gupta, raised a $45 million series E round in 2013.
Inrix: The Kirkland transportation data company has been racking up partnerships with high-profile car companies in recent years. Porsche poured nearly $55 million into Inrix in 2014.
Avvo: The Seattle online legal marketplace is one of many West Coast companies that entrepreneur Rich Barton had a hand in creating. A $71.5 million round in July ignited speculation that it could join sister companies Zillow and Expedia as the next to go public.
Skytap: The Seattle cloud software company is one of the smaller companies helping brand the region as the cloud capital of the nation. The company, which helps businesses test technology in the cloud, raised a $35 million series D round in December 2014.