Initial Public Offering


The process of issuing shares of a private firm to the public in a fresh stock issuance is famous as an initial public offering (IPO). An initial public offering (IPO) allows a firm to raise funds from the general public. The move from a private to a public firm can be a crucial opportunity for private investors to completely realize rewards from their investment. Meanwhile, public investors participate in the offering.

  • An initial public offering (IPO) refers to the process of offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance. 
  • Companies must meet requirements by exchanges and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to hold an IPO.
  • IPOs provide companies with an opportunity to obtain capital by offering shares through the primary market.
  • Companies hire investment banks to market, gauge demand, set the IPO price and date, and more.
  • An IPO can be seen as an exit strategy for the company’s founders and early investors, realizing the full profit from their private investment.

How an Initial Public Offering (IPO) Works

A corporation is deemed private before it goes public. The firm has expanded with a limited number of stockholders as a pre-IPO private company, comprising early investors such as the founders, family, and friends.

An initial public offering (IPO) is a significant milestone for a company since it allows it to raise significant funds. This increases the company’s capacity to expand and grow. The enhanced transparency and legitimacy of its stock listing may also help company acquire better terms when seeking borrowed capital.

When a firm believes it is mature enough for the rigors of SEC laws, as well as the rewards and responsibilities that come with being a public company, it will begin to promote its interest in going public.

This stage of development usually occurs when a company has reached a private valuation of $1 billion or more, commonly famous as unicorn status. However, depending on market competition and their capacity to meet listing standards, private companies with good fundamentals and proven profitability potential can potentially qualify for an IPO.

Underwriting due diligence prices a company’s IPO shares. When a corporation goes public, private share ownership transforms to public ownership. And existing private shareholders’ shares are valuable at the public market price. Special provisions for private to public share ownership can be in share underwriting.

Generally, the transition from private to public is a key time for private investors to cash in and earn the returns they were expecting. Private shareholders may hold onto their shares in the public market or sell a portion or all of them for gains.

History of IPOs

For decades, the term “initial public offering” has been a buzzword on Wall Street and among investors. By selling shares in the Dutch East India Company to the general public, the Dutch are credited with launching the first modern IPO.

Since then, IPOs are  as a means for corporations to generate funds from the general public by issuing public shares.

IPOs are for uptrends and downtrends in issuance over the years. Individual industries also go through ups and downs in issuance as a result of innovation and other economic considerations. At the height of the dot-com bubble, tech IPOs exploded as firms with no revenue hurried to list on the stock exchange.

The financial crisis of 2008 resulted in the lowest number of initial public offerings (IPOs) ever. Following the financial crisis of 2008, IPOs came to a halt, and fresh listings became scarce for several years.

Much of the recent IPO hype has been on so-called unicorns—startups with private valuations of more than $1 billion. Investors and the media speculate a lot about these companies and whether they will go public via an IPO or remain private.

The IPO Process

An initial public offering (IPO) is divided into two sections. The first is the offering’s pre-marketing phase, and the second is the actual first public offering. When a company wants to do an IPO, it will either request private bids from underwriters or make a public declaration to attract interest.

The underwriters are picked by the company to lead the IPO process. A company may select one or more underwriters to collaborate on various aspects of the IPO process. Every step of the IPO due diligence, document preparation, filing, marketing, and issuance is handled by the underwriters.

Steps to an IPO

1. Proposals

Underwriters present proposals and valuations discussing their services, the best type of security to issue, offering price, amount of shares, and estimated time frame for the market offering.

2. Underwriter

The company chooses its underwriters and formally agrees to underwrite terms through an underwriting agreement.

3. Team

IPO teams are formed comprising underwriters, lawyers, certified public accountants (CPAs), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) experts.

4. Documentation

For the needed IPO papers, information on the company prepares. The principal IPO filing document is the S-1 Registration Statement. There are two elements to it: the prospectus and the confidential filing information.

The S-1 contains preliminary information regarding the projected filing date. Throughout the pre-IPO process, it will be updated often. The prospectus that comes with the package is also updated on a regular basis.

5. Marketing & Updates

For the pre-marketing of the new stock issuance, marketing materials are prepared. To evaluate demand and set a final offering price, underwriters and executives publicize the share issuance. Throughout the marketing process, underwriters can make changes to their financial analyses. This could involve adjusting the IPO price or issuance date as needed.

Companies take the required actions to meet the standards for public stock offerings. For public corporations, both exchange listing criteria and SEC regulations must meet.

6. Board & Processes

Form a board of directors and ensure processes for reporting auditable financial and accounting information every quarter.

7. Shares Issued

The company’s shares issue on an initial public offering (IPO) date. The capital received as cash from the primary issuance is reported as stockholders’ equity on the balance sheet. As a result, the balance sheet share value entirely determines by the company’s stockholders’ equity per share valuation.


Advantages and Disadvantages of an IPO

The primary objective of an IPO is to raise capital for a business. It can also come with other advantages, but also disadvantages.


One of the most significant advantages is that the company can raise funds from the entire investing public. This makes acquisition negotiations (share conversions) easier, as well as increasing the company’s exposure, prestige, and public image, all of which can assist sales and profitability.

Increased transparency, such as that provided by compulsory quarterly reporting, can usually assist a public corporation obtain better credit borrowing conditions than a private one.


Companies may face a number of drawbacks to going public, prompting them to consider other options. The fact that IPOs are costly, and the costs of sustaining a public company are ongoing and largely unrelated to other costs of conducting business, are just a few of the key drawbacks.

Management may be compensated and assessed based on stock performance rather than genuine financial results, so fluctuations in a company’s share price can be a distraction. In addition, the business must report financial, accounting, tax, and other business information. It may have to publicly share secrets and business processes that could aid competitors during these disclosures.

The board of directors’ rigid leadership and governance can make it more difficult to retain strong managers who are ready to take risks. It’s always possible to remain anonymous. Companies may also seek offers for a buyout instead of going public. Additionally, businesses may want to consider some other options.

Investing in an IPO

When a firm decides to raise money through an IPO, it does so only after extensive research and analysis to ensure that this exit plan maximizes early investor returns while also raising the greatest capital for the company. As a result, when there is an IPO decision, the chances of future growth are likely to be strong, and many public investors will be waiting in line to purchase shares for the first time. IPOs sometimes discount to ensure sales, which makes them even more appealing, especially when the primary issue generates a large number of buyers.

Initially, the underwriters established the price of the IPO through their pre-marketing process. The IPO price is based on the company’s valuation employing fundamental techniques at its core.

On a per-share basis, underwriters and prospective investors consider this value. Equity value, enterprise value, similar firm adjustments, and other methodologies may determine the price. Demand is taken into account by the underwriters, but they also discount the price to assure success on the IPO day.

Analyzing the fundamentals and technicals of an IPO issuance can be difficult. Investors will read the news headlines, but the prospectus, which is available as soon as the firm files its S-1 Registration, should be the primary source of information. The prospectus contains a wealth of information. Investors should pay close attention to the management team’s comments, as well as the underwriters’ quality and the deal’s specifications. Big investment banks that can effectively promote a new issue will often support successful IPOs.


If you look at the charts of many IPOs, you’ll find that the stock takes a sharp decline after a few months. This is frequently due to the end of the lock-up period. When a business goes public, the underwriters need executives and employees to sign a lock-up agreement.

Lock-up agreements are legally enforceable arrangements between underwriters and company insiders that prevent them from selling any stock for a set length of time. The time frame can be ranging from three to twenty-four months. The minimum term required by Rule 144 (SEC legislation) is ninety days, but the underwriters’ lock-up can continue much longer. The issue is that when insider lockups expire, all insiders are free to sell their stock. As a result, many are rushing to sell their shares in order to cash in on their profits.


Flipping is the practice of reselling an IPO stock in the first few days to earn a quick profit. It is common when the stock discounts and soars on its first day of trading.

Tracking Stocks

When an existing firm spins out a component of its operation as a separate corporation, establishing tracking stocks. It is similar to a typical IPO. The argument for spin-offs and the development of tracking stocks is that individual sections of a corporation can be worth more separately than the firm as a whole in some situations. For example, if a division has great growth potential but substantial current losses within a firm that is otherwise slow developing, it may be prudent to carve it out and keep the parent company as a major shareholder before allowing it to seek further capital through an IPO.

These could be interesting IPO chances from the standpoint of an investor. A spin-off of an established firm, in general, gives investors a lot of information about the parent company and its ownership in the divesting company. More information available to potential investors is usually preferable to less. And as a result, intelligent investors may be able to profit from this situation. Because investors are more aware of spin-offs, there is usually less initial volatility.

IPOs Over the Long-Term

IPOs are famous for having erratic first-day returns, which might draw investors wanting to take advantage of the discounts. An IPO’s price will settle into a consistent value over time. Investors who want to participate in the IPO market but don’t want to risk their money on individual stocks might consider managed funds that specialize in IPO universes.

What Is the Purpose of an Initial Public Offering (IPO)?

An initial public offering (IPO) is a technique of raising funds for major corporations in which the company offers its shares to the public for the first time. The company’s shares trade on a stock exchange after the IPO. The following are some of the key reasons for launching an IPO: to raise funds through the sale of shares, to provide liquidity to firm founders and early investors, and to take advantage of a greater value.

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