Slack Will Direct List on the NYSE in 2019
So, the trend begins. Tech startups will no longer IPO, but instead direct list. I’m kind of into it. It gets right to the point. There’s no ritualistic dance with investors, no large ceremonial bell ringing, no superficial breakfast or charade between bankers, investors, shareholders, workers, and founders.
The public, the investors, the VCs and so on — they all get what they want on the big day, without the headache, fever and subsequent hangover from the IPO. You just list, and poof — you’re on the exchange. Simple enough.
It seems to me that the IPO process is going through something similar: It used to be that, if you wanted to go public, there was one way to do it. Now there are two. But the choice creates the possibility of more choice, of unlimited customization, of tweaking each feature to get exactly the tradeoffs you want.
It sort of makes sense that this would be a project led by tech companies, no? The story is that there was a big old legacy business that comfortably sold a standard package of features for a lucrative price, and then a bunch of tech startups came in and questioned everything; they unbundled the service so customers could get what they wanted rather than what the legacy players wanted to sell. It’s just that the tech companies didn’t do it as competitors, by offering the disruptive unbundled product, but as customers, by demanding it.
Interesting, huh? Leave it to the startups to disrupt a 236 year old process.
I can’t quite read the oracle bones on Slack, but it has serious potential. The jury is still out on their rebrand. While the rebrand stings, their engineering prowess and vision is impressive. Slack isn’t the new watercooler, there’s no money in that metaphor — Slack is the new vending machine.
At any rate, it seems that direct listing will become the new norm for VC-funded tech startups. I have to say, I don’t hate the thought of it.
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