07 Mar 9 Biggest Companies Going Public in 2019
Which companies are expected to go public in 2019? Short answer: The ones everyone’s been waiting for.
2019 IPOs to watch: 9 highly anticipated new issues.
After a explosion of initial public offerings in 2018, the upcoming IPO pipeline for 2019 looks even more charming. Although late 2018 saw volatility return to Wall Street with a vengeance, a handful of highly anticipated multibillion-dollar companies are still expected to go public in 2019. In fact, the stock market’s recent drop is quite unlikely to prevent the year from being historic for new issues, as a small group of bona fide blue-chip “unicorns,” with impatient early supporters and loyal employees anxious to cash out, prepare to list on major stock exchanges. Here are nine of the most anticipated and hottest upcoming IPOs to watch for in 2019.
Headlining the list of upcoming 2019 IPOs is Uber, the world’s preeminent ride-hailing company. The writing is clearly on the wall for Uber, which hired former Expedia Group CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in 2017 to replace founder Travis Kalanick amid a torrent of scandals, PR gaffes and board infighting. Khosrowshahi diligently recruited a chief financial officer to prepare for and execute Uber’s IPO, hiring Merrill Lynch CFO Nelson Chai. Uber filed to go public confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission in early December and is racing rival Lyft to Wall Street; Uber is expected to go public in the first half of 2019.
Potential IPO valuation: $120 billion
Lyft isn’t just racing Uber to adopt self-driving cars, dramatically reduce labor costs and magically breakeven – it’s racing Uber to tap the public coffers, and the Lyft IPO is also expected in the first half of 2019. In fact, both ride-hailing competitors confidentially filed to go public on the same day in December, illustrating how cutthroat their rivalry has become. While both are some of the most anticipated IPOs of 2019, Lyft and Uber are competing for the same investment dollars. Major backers include General Motors Co. (GM), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Icahn Enterprises (IEP) and Fidelity.
Potential IPO valuation: $15 billion
Unlike the previous two names, and indeed, unlike most companies going public, Airbnb is reportedly considering a “direct listing,” cutting out Wall Street underwriters and selling shares directly to the public. The downside is that the company itself doesn’t actually get any of the proceeds (it’s a way for insiders to cash out), but for Airbnb, the nimble, profitable, room-listing platform with famously little overhead and a $31 billion valuation, that’s not a huge problem. Airbnb is one of two upcoming IPOs in 2019 connected to Peter Thiel; Thiel’s Founder’s Fund led a $200 million funding round in 2013 valuing Airbnb at $2.3 billion.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $31 billion
This year really should be chock-full of highly anticipated IPOs, as practically every hot Silicon Valley startup not yet public is rushing to go public by year’s end. Slack, the workplace messaging app, seems to be openly prepping for an IPO, hiring Goldman Sachs (GS) for lead underwriting duties in December 2018. Although Slack’s user growth is impressive, clocking in around 45 percent in May 2018, the service – which boasted 8 million daily users and 3 million paying subscribers through May – faces increasing competition from much larger companies like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Alphabet, Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Facebook (FB).
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $10 billion
Secretive data analytics and intelligence firm Palantir also makes the cut as one of 2019’s top upcoming IPOs. Co-founded by Thiel, some of Palantir’s largest customers are governments and intelligence agencies, and the company reportedly played a major role in the 2011 capture of Osama bin Laden. Although quarterly Wall Street examinations might not be ideal for Palantir’s guarded business, some early investors and employees are ready for liquidity. In fall 2018, Palantir consulted with Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley (MS) about an IPO, getting estimated valuations as high as $41 billion, though many think that’s a bit optimistic.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $30 billion to $40 billion
The no-fee trading platform Robinhood, which surpassed E-Trade (ETFC) in user count in 2018 just five years after forming and now has more than 5 million accounts, is definitely mulling an IPO. The service revolutionized trading and is a favorite of millennials, earning money from interest on account balances, margin trading and selling order flow to stock exchanges. Its latest funding round raised $363 million and gave Robinhood a $5.6 billion valuation. In November, Robinhood hired away Amazon’s (AMZN) vice president of finance, Jason Warnick, to become CFO, making Robinhood one of the biggest IPOs to watch in 2019.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $5.6 billion
While Robinhood may or may not hit stock exchanges in 2019, Pinterest is almost certainly going public this year, and could list as soon as April, according to Wall Street Journal reports. The image search and sharing app, which is a dream partner for many online retailers and fashion brands, reportedly was on track to finish 2018 with around $700 million in revenue, up about 50 percent year-over-year. With more than 250 million active users and a 2017 raise valuing the company at $12.3 billion, even a richly priced Pinterest IPO is likely to attract investor attention. Engagement and growth like this are rarities.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $12.3 billion
Like many of the aforementioned tech “unicorns” on this IPO list, food delivery app Postmates began seriously exploring the process of going public in autumn of 2018, consulting several banks about the underwriting process. A month prior, in September, Postmates raised $300 million at a $1.2 billion valuation, making it one of the smaller companies on this list. If ever there was a time to pull the trigger though, 2019 would seem an ideal time to raise public capital. The company faces intense competition from GrubHub (GRUB), UberEats, DoorDash and others, and may want to go public before the bull market fizzles out.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $1.2 billion
Shared office space startup WeWork is last of the nine upcoming IPOs to watch for 2019 – but it’s hardly the least valuable. The trendy real estate company, which leases space in its sleek, open locations to small, medium and large businesses alike, as well as freelancers and remote workers, more than doubled revenue to $422 million in the second quarter of 2018. Profitability is a problem: WeWork lost $723 million in the first half of 2018 alone. Softbank recently put $3 billion into the company at a $42 billion valuation, reducing the need to debut immediately. Still, financing growing losses over the long-term might require an IPO.
Potential 2019 IPO valuation: $42 billion