The year 2018 in the IPO landscape was both dynamic and eventful, characterized by significant activity and some notable trends. Tech companies, especially from the U.S. and China, dominated headlines with several high-profile debuts. The robust U.S. economy, coupled with a receptive investor base, made the American stock exchanges a preferred destination for many companies seeking to go public.
Chinese tech giants like Xiaomi and Meituan Dianping made waves with their massive IPOs in Hong Kong, signifying the region’s growing importance as a hub for tech listings. These IPOs reflected the global appetite for technology stocks and the increasing influence of Chinese firms on the international stage.
In the U.S., companies like Dropbox and Spotify chose unconventional routes to public markets. Spotify, for instance, opted for a direct listing on the NYSE, bypassing the traditional IPO process, which stirred discussions about alternative approaches to public listings.
Biotech companies also saw a resurgence in 2018, with a flurry of firms from this sector choosing to debut, driven by advancements in medical research and investors’ appetite for high-growth potential stocks.
However, the year wasn’t without its challenges. Market volatility, particularly in the latter half of the year, and global trade tensions made some companies hesitant or delay their public offering plans. Yet, overall, the enthusiasm for new listings, especially in the tech and biotech sectors, underscored the year’s IPO narrative.
In essence, 2018 was a year where tech reigned supreme in the IPO world, but it was also a period of exploration and experimentation, with companies exploring new avenues and strategies for their public market debuts.
DocuSign’s journey to its IPO epitomizes the transformative power of digital solutions in traditional business practices. Founded in 2003, DocuSign set out with a mission to accelerate business processes by enabling electronic agreements. Its platform allowed users to sign, send, and manage documents electronically, bringing a revolutionary change to the age-old method of paper-based signatures.
By the time the 2010s rolled around, DocuSign had cemented its position as a leader in the e-signature space, boasting a growing user base and serving numerous industries, from real estate to healthcare. The convenience, security, and efficiency of its platform resonated with businesses worldwide, positioning DocuSign as not just a tool, but a necessity for many.
Recognizing its growth potential and the increasing global shift towards digital transactions, DocuSign decided to tap into the public markets for further expansion capital. In April 2018, the company made its stock market debut on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “DOCU.” The IPO was a significant success, with the shares priced at $29, above the expected range, highlighting the strong investor confidence in DocuSign’s value proposition and future prospects.
The company’s post-IPO journey was marked by consistent growth, strategic acquisitions, and product innovations, reinforcing its commitment to simplifying business processes. The successful public offering not only provided DocuSign with the means to further its ambitions but also served as a testament to the market’s belief in the enduring importance of digital transformation.
Dropbox’s path to its IPO is a narrative of the transformative nature of cloud storage and collaborative tools in the digital era. Founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox began as a simple solution to a common problem Drew faced: forgetting his USB drive. The idea was straightforward yet groundbreaking — to create a platform where files could be easily stored, accessed, and shared from any device.
As the years progressed, Dropbox rapidly grew in popularity. Its user-friendly interface, coupled with the seamless sharing capabilities, made it a favorite among both individual users and businesses. By the time the mid-2010s arrived, Dropbox had evolved beyond just file storage, venturing into collaboration tools and enterprise solutions. This expansion positioned the company at the forefront of the growing cloud-based collaborative workspace movement.
With its vast user base, expanding product suite, and the burgeoning demand for cloud solutions, Dropbox saw an opportunity to further its growth and solidify its market position. The public markets offered the ideal platform for this ambition. In March 2018, Dropbox took the plunge, going public on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “DBX.” Priced at $21 per share, the IPO was met with considerable enthusiasm, valuing the company at nearly $10 billion and showcasing the robust investor confidence in Dropbox’s potential.
Following its public debut, Dropbox continued to innovate, diversifying its offerings and strengthening its position in the collaborative workspace sector. The IPO not only provided the company with the resources to pursue its growth strategies but also underscored the broader market’s recognition of the pivotal role of cloud-based tools in the future of work and digital collaboration.
Tilray’s trajectory leading up to its IPO is a reflection of the burgeoning cannabis industry’s evolution and the shifting perceptions around marijuana, especially for medicinal use. Founded in 2013, Tilray was established with a focus on cultivating, processing, and distributing medical cannabis, operating primarily out of Canada, where medical marijuana was federally legal.
Given the global trend toward marijuana legalization and an increasing acceptance of its therapeutic benefits, Tilray quickly emerged as a key player in the industry. The company made strategic moves, establishing a global presence and securing partnerships to research and develop cannabis-based medicines.
By 2018, with the Canadian government on the cusp of legalizing recreational cannabis, the industry’s potential for significant growth was palpable. Recognizing this pivotal moment, Tilray decided to enter the public markets to raise capital and solidify its leadership in the evolving space. In July 2018, Tilray became the first major cannabis producer to go public on a major U.S. exchange, listing its shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “TLRY.” The IPO, priced at $17 per share, was met with immense investor interest, indicating a strong belief in the cannabis market’s future and Tilray’s potential within it.
In the aftermath of its IPO, Tilray witnessed volatile stock price movements, mirroring the broader cannabis industry’s challenges and opportunities. However, the company remained committed to its vision, focusing on research, expanding its product portfolio, and exploring strategic partnerships. Tilray’s public offering not only marked its own growth aspirations but also signified a broader industry trend of shifting from stigmatization to mainstream acceptance and commercialization of cannabis.
SurveyMonkey’s journey to its IPO encapsulates the rising significance of digital survey platforms in extracting valuable insights from data. Founded in 1999 by Ryan Finley, SurveyMonkey began with a simple yet powerful vision: to provide individuals and businesses with an easy-to-use tool to create online surveys. Over the years, as data-driven decisions became paramount, the platform grew in relevance, allowing users to gather feedback efficiently and effectively.
By the time the 2010s approached, SurveyMonkey had established itself as a premier online survey platform, serving millions of users worldwide. Its versatility meant that it wasn’t just businesses utilizing its services; educational institutions, non-profits, and even individual researchers found value in the platform.
Recognizing the burgeoning global demand for data analytics and feedback tools, and to further its growth ambitions, SurveyMonkey eyed the public markets. In September 2018, the company launched its IPO on the NASDAQ, trading under the ticker symbol “SVMK.” With shares priced at $12, the public offering underscored strong investor interest in digital platforms that democratize access to data-driven insights.
Following its public debut, SurveyMonkey continued its momentum, broadening its suite of tools and focusing on innovations that catered to a wide array of user needs. The IPO not only provided the capital for SurveyMonkey to further its mission but also spotlighted the broader shift towards platforms that enable individuals and organizations to glean actionable insights from data in an accessible manner.
Softbank Group IPO
SoftBank Group’s path to its place in the public markets is a tale of audacious ambition and a vision to shape the technological future. Founded in 1981 by Masayoshi Son, SoftBank began as a software distribution company in Japan. However, the company’s journey over the years has been anything but linear, morphing and expanding its interests across diverse sectors, from telecommunications to e-commerce, and later, to pioneering investments in the world’s most promising startups.
By the 1990s, SoftBank had ventured into internet-based businesses, making early and notable investments in companies like Yahoo!, cementing its position as a significant player in the nascent digital economy. SoftBank’s knack for identifying potential market leaders continued into the new millennium, with its watershed investment in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant. This investment would later become one of the most successful bets in the venture capital world.
Given its expanding portfolio and influence, SoftBank sought access to capital to fuel its ever-growing ambitions. The company had been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since the early ’90s, but its financial maneuvers and public market activities became especially noteworthy as it set out to create the Vision Fund in the late 2010s. This fund, one of the largest of its kind, aimed to invest in pioneering technology startups around the globe.
SoftBank’s journey in the public markets has been characterized by its bold investment strategies and its belief in the transformative potential of technology. While its investments have seen varying degrees of success, SoftBank’s influence in shaping the tech landscape, from its early bets on internet companies to its more recent forays into artificial intelligence and robotics, cannot be understated.
In summary, SoftBank Group’s trajectory, from its origins as a software distributor to its current status as a global investment behemoth, reflects Masayoshi Son’s vision and the company’s enduring belief in technology’s potential to reshape the world.
Aston Martin IPO
Aston Martin’s road to its IPO is deeply intertwined with its legacy as an emblematic luxury sports car manufacturer, with a story stretching over a century. Founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin quickly established itself as a symbol of British automotive elegance, performance, and craftsmanship. Over the decades, the brand became synonymous with luxury, speed, and even cinematic glamour, notably through its recurring feature as James Bond’s car of choice.
Despite its iconic status in the automotive world, Aston Martin’s financial journey was tumultuous, experiencing several ownership changes and navigating economic downturns. However, its commitment to producing vehicles that married design excellence with performance ensured that the brand retained its allure among car aficionados.
By the 2010s, with a rejuvenated product lineup and after years under private ownership, Aston Martin began considering the public markets to secure capital for future growth and to cement its revival. In October 2018, taking a significant step in its corporate journey, Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc went public on the London Stock Exchange. It was a momentous occasion, marking one of the few times a British carmaker had braved the public markets in decades. The IPO was seen as an affirmation of Aston Martin’s resurgence and its strategy to position itself as a global luxury brand beyond just cars.
While the post-IPO period presented challenges, with stock price fluctuations and changing market dynamics, Aston Martin’s brand equity and its dedication to innovation and luxury remained unshaken. The company’s decision to go public was not just a financial maneuver but a statement of intent, reflecting its ambitions to drive forward while honoring a storied heritage.
Moderna’s trajectory leading up to its IPO mirrors the cutting-edge nature of its scientific pursuits and the potential of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to revolutionize medicine. Founded in 2010 by Noubar Afeyan, Robert Langer, Derrick Rossi, and others, Moderna was established with an audacious goal: harness the power of mRNA to create a new class of medicines. By using mRNA as a therapeutic tool, the company aimed to instruct patients’ own cells to produce proteins that could treat or prevent a variety of diseases.
As Moderna delved deeper into the uncharted waters of mRNA research, it quickly garnered attention and investments, largely because of the transformative potential its technology held. By the mid-2010s, with a promising pipeline of mRNA-based drug candidates spanning infectious diseases, oncology, and cardiovascular disorders, Moderna began to stand out as a pioneering entity in the biotech landscape.
Recognizing the vast potential of its research and the capital-intensive nature of drug development, Moderna sought substantial funding to advance its vision. The public markets, with their promise of significant capital and visibility, seemed a logical next step. In December 2018, Moderna launched its IPO, debuting on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “MRNA.” With shares priced at $23, it was one of the largest biotech IPOs at the time, underscoring the investor community’s faith in Moderna’s innovative approach.
The years following its IPO were groundbreaking for Moderna, especially with its rapid and successful development of an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19. This achievement not only spotlighted Moderna’s scientific prowess but also validated mRNA technology’s promise, elevating the company to global prominence. Moderna’s journey to and post its IPO paints a picture of innovation, resilience, and the transformative power of science when harnessed with vision and determination.
Avaya’s pathway leading up to its time in the public markets is emblematic of the ever-evolving telecommunications and technology sectors. Tracing its roots back to the early 20th century, Avaya was originally a part of AT&T, playing a significant role in the telecommunications revolution. When AT&T underwent a breakup in 2000, Avaya was spun off as an independent company, primarily focusing on business communications, especially voice communication systems.
In its initial years as a standalone entity, Avaya navigated a rapidly shifting technology landscape. As the technology world moved away from traditional telecommunications solutions towards integrated digital systems, Avaya evolved too. It began to focus on unified communications, contact center solutions, and services, positioning itself as a solutions provider for businesses looking to enhance communication and collaboration.
However, the journey wasn’t without its challenges. The competitive landscape, frequent technological disruptions, and the need for continuous innovation put significant pressure on Avaya’s operations. In 2007, sensing the need for a strategic shift and in the wake of mounting debts, Avaya decided to go private in an $8.2 billion deal with private equity firms Silver Lake and TPG Capital.
A decade later, in 2017, following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to restructure its heavy debt load, Avaya emerged with a plan to re-enter the public markets. By January 2018, Avaya was once again trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “AVYA”, albeit through a direct listing instead of a traditional IPO.
Avaya’s journey, marked by its spin-off, strategic shifts, private equity buyout, bankruptcy restructuring, and eventual return to the public markets, provides a fascinating lens through which to view the challenges and opportunities inherent in the dynamic world of technology and telecommunications. Through all its transitions, Avaya’s resilience and adaptability have been evident as it continues to serve businesses with evolving communication needs.
Eventbrite’s journey to its IPO embodies the transformative nature of digital platforms in reshaping how events are organized and attended. Founded in 2006 by Julia Hartz, Kevin Hartz, and Renaud Visage, Eventbrite emerged with a straightforward yet novel vision: to democratize ticketing and event registration, making it simpler and more accessible for event organizers and attendees alike.
Leveraging the power of the internet, Eventbrite provided an intuitive platform that allowed anyone, from local community organizers to large-scale concert promoters, to set up, promote, and manage ticket sales for their events. The platform’s versatility and user-centric design made it popular among a wide range of event organizers. As social media platforms grew in prominence, Eventbrite’s integrative features further facilitated event promotion and discovery, leading to a rapid increase in its user base.
Recognizing the expansive growth opportunities in the global events market and to fuel its ambitions, Eventbrite looked toward the public markets. In September 2018, the company took a significant leap, going public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “EB.” With its shares priced at $23, the IPO was a testament to the strong belief in Eventbrite’s potential to redefine the event ticketing landscape further.
Following its public debut, Eventbrite continued its commitment to innovation, seeking to refine and expand its platform and diversify its offerings to cater to the evolving needs of event organizers and attendees. The company’s IPO not only marked a significant milestone in its corporate journey but also highlighted the broader trend of digital platforms disrupting traditional industries, providing more efficient, scalable, and user-friendly solutions.
LoveSac’s progression to its IPO is a story of entrepreneurial spirit, adaptability, and an innovative approach to furniture. Founded in 1995 by Shawn Nelson, LoveSac began its journey not as a furniture company per se, but with the creation of a single product: a large, beanbag-like chair known as the “sac.” Nelson initially designed it for personal use, but the novelty and comfort of the product garnered attention, leading him to realize its commercial potential.
In the early days, sales were largely grassroots, with Nelson selling the sacs out of his van at concerts and events. However, the unique offering started to gain traction, and by the early 2000s, LoveSac had expanded into mall retail locations. Yet, it wasn’t just the original sac that drove the company’s growth. LoveSac evolved its product line, most notably with the introduction of the Sactional, a modular, customizable sofa system. This innovation combined functionality with sustainability, as customers could rearrange and expand their furniture without the need for entirely new pieces.
While LoveSac saw success with its products, it wasn’t immune to challenges. The company faced financial struggles in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn. But, resilient and adaptive, LoveSac shifted its strategy, focusing on direct-to-consumer sales and reducing its dependence on mall-based retail outlets.
Seeing the potential for further growth and wanting to tap into the broader home furnishing market, LoveSac eyed the public markets. In June 2018, marking a significant milestone in its journey, the company went public on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “LOVE.” The IPO was a testament to LoveSac’s evolution from a single-product venture to a forward-thinking, sustainable furniture brand.
Post-IPO, LoveSac has continued its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and customer-centric designs. Its public offering not only provided the capital to further its mission but also solidified its position as a disruptor in the traditional furniture industry.
Xiaomi’s pathway to its IPO encapsulates a rapid ascent in the technology world, driven by innovative products and a unique business model. Founded in 2010 by Lei Jun and several co-founders, Xiaomi started with a vision to create high-quality smartphones with top-notch specifications but at a fraction of the price of other premium brands. The company’s approach was to keep hardware prices close to cost and rely on revenue from software, internet services, and an ecosystem of smart devices.
From its earliest days, Xiaomi cultivated a close relationship with its user community. The company frequently updated its MIUI (the custom Android firmware it developed) based on user feedback, which helped foster brand loyalty and a dedicated fanbase. This unique customer-centric approach, combined with its flash sales model and online-first distribution strategy, allowed Xiaomi to disrupt the smartphone market, especially in its home country, China.
In a few short years, Xiaomi expanded beyond smartphones, creating an ecosystem of smart home devices and other consumer electronics, all while maintaining its commitment to offering high value for the price. By the mid-2010s, the company had not only established a strong presence in China but also began its expansion into international markets, particularly in Asia and Europe.
Recognizing the vast potential in its multi-faceted business model and to fuel its global ambitions, Xiaomi set its sights on the public markets. In July 2018, the company made a landmark move by launching its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. While the IPO faced challenges, including a cooling off of tech stocks globally and geopolitical tensions, Xiaomi’s debut was still one of the largest tech IPOs of the year.
Following its public offering, Xiaomi continued its multi-pronged growth strategy, further expanding its product ecosystem, entering new markets, and strengthening its position as a global technology powerhouse. The company’s journey to its IPO and beyond is a testament to its innovative spirit, disruptive approach, and the vision of making quality technology accessible to the masses.
Opera’s journey toward its IPO is a narrative of pioneering web browsing solutions, evolving digital landscapes, and adapting to a rapidly changing technological environment. Founded in 1995 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy in Norway, Opera set out with an aim to reshape the internet browsing experience. Their creation, the Opera web browser, stood out due to its speed, minimalism, and innovative features. In a time dominated by a few browser giants, Opera managed to carve a niche for itself, especially with tech-savvy users and those seeking alternatives to mainstream options.
Over the years, Opera continually innovated, introducing features like tabbed browsing and integrated search, many of which are now standard across browsers. Furthermore, Opera made significant inroads into the mobile browsing space with Opera Mini, a browser designed for mobile phones with limited capabilities. Opera Mini’s data compression technology allowed faster browsing on slower networks, making it especially popular in emerging markets where high-speed internet was not always available.
As the digital ecosystem expanded, so did Opera’s ambitions. Beyond just web browsing, the company ventured into content recommendations, advertising, and other digital services. Understanding the need for capital to fuel these expansive ventures and to position itself on a global stage, Opera looked to the public markets.
In July 2018, marking a significant chapter in its over two-decade-long history, Opera went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol “OPRA.” The IPO not only provided the company with the funds to further its global strategy but also highlighted its enduring presence in the competitive web browser market.
Post-IPO, Opera’s trajectory was characterized by diversification, as the company expanded its suite of products and services, aiming to offer a holistic digital experience to users. Opera’s journey to its public offering is emblematic of its innovative spirit, commitment to user-centric solutions, and adaptability in the face of an ever-evolving tech landscape.
Farfetch’s path to its IPO is a tale of envisioning the luxury fashion world through a digital lens and leveraging the power of e-commerce to reshape how high-end products are consumed globally. Founded in 2007 by José Neves, Farfetch began as an ambitious project to connect boutiques from around the world to a single online platform. The idea was both simple and revolutionary: to allow luxury fashion lovers to shop from iconic boutiques and brands globally, all from the comfort of their homes.
From its inception, Farfetch distinguished itself with its unique value proposition. Instead of holding inventory like traditional retailers, it operated as a marketplace, connecting customers directly with boutiques. This model allowed for a diverse and vast range of products, often including hard-to-find items, thereby attracting a dedicated and discerning clientele.
The company’s growth was marked by strategic partnerships and acquisitions. By collaborating with both established luxury fashion houses and emerging designers, Farfetch positioned itself at the crossroads of tradition and innovation in the fashion world. Its platform became synonymous with a global, curated, and expansive luxury shopping experience.
Recognizing the immense potential of the luxury e-commerce market and the need for capital to fuel its global ambitions, Farfetch decided to go public. In September 2018, the company made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “FTCH.” The IPO was a significant validation of Farfetch’s business model, its position in the luxury digital space, and its vision for the future of fashion retail.
Post-IPO, Farfetch continued its trajectory of growth and innovation. The company pursued strategic collaborations, further expanded its global presence, and honed its technology offerings to enhance the user experience. Farfetch’s journey from a visionary idea to a publicly-traded global luxury fashion platform underscores the transformative power of digital innovation in even the most traditional industries.
Sonos’ trajectory leading up to its IPO is a testament to the power of innovation, design aesthetics, and the drive to redefine the audio experience in modern homes. Founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai in Santa Barbara, California, Sonos embarked on a mission to revolutionize home audio for the digital age. At a time when music consumption was undergoing significant change, with the rise of digital files and streaming services, Sonos saw an opportunity to innovate the way sound was experienced in living spaces.
Sonos’ brilliance lay in its wireless speaker systems that allowed users to play music in any room of their house seamlessly. The system was designed to work in harmony, where multiple speakers could be connected, managed, and controlled through a single app. The focus was not just on technology, but also on producing rich, room-filling sound, thus catering to both audiophiles and everyday music lovers.
As streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and others began to dominate the music landscape, Sonos was well-positioned to capitalize on this shift. Their speakers integrated effortlessly with multiple streaming platforms, offering users an unparalleled listening experience.
Yet, the journey wasn’t without challenges. The audio industry is competitive, with tech giants and traditional audio companies vying for market share. But Sonos, with its commitment to design, sound quality, and seamless integration, carved a dedicated customer base.
Seeing the growth potential and the evolving dynamics of the smart home ecosystem, Sonos turned its gaze toward the public markets. In August 2018, the company marked a significant milestone by going public on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “SONO.”
Following its IPO, Sonos continued to innovate, expanding its product line, integrating voice assistants, and focusing on creating an immersive sound ecosystem for modern homes. The company’s journey from its inception to its public offering speaks to its dedication to reimagining the boundaries of sound, design, and technology in a connected world.
TenCent Music IPO
Tencent Music Entertainment’s progression towards its IPO underscores the confluence of music, technology, and the vast digital appetite of the Chinese market. A subsidiary of the Chinese tech giant Tencent, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) was not just another music streaming service; it embodied a more holistic approach to digital music entertainment, bringing together music streaming, online karaoke, and live streaming services under one umbrella.
From its early stages, TME differentiated itself from other music streaming platforms. Instead of solely focusing on passive music consumption, it emphasized social and interactive features, allowing users to sing along, comment on songs, and even buy virtual gifts for live streaming performers. This comprehensive entertainment ecosystem made TME not just a place to listen to music, but a platform for users to engage, interact, and be entertained.
By integrating deeply with other Tencent services and leveraging the parent company’s vast user base, TME quickly dominated the Chinese music streaming landscape. Its platforms, including QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, amassed millions of active users, turning TME into the leading digital music entertainment platform in China.
Recognizing the vast potential of the Chinese digital music market and to further its ambitions, TME eyed the public markets. In December 2018, marking a significant moment in its journey, Tencent Music Entertainment went public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TME.” This move not only provided the company with capital to further invest in its platforms and expand its content library but also signaled the global ambitions of Chinese tech enterprises.
Post-IPO, TME continued to fortify its leadership position in the Chinese market, exploring innovative features, deepening partnerships with global music labels, and further intertwining music with social interactions. Tencent Music Entertainment’s journey from a digital music platform to a publicly-traded global entity underscores the transformative power of digital entertainment in the modern age.
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