Companies are increasingly staying private for longer, raising ever larger amounts from private equity and venture capital. SoftBank Technology Corp.’s Vision Fund took the lead in an $8 billion backing of Uber in January 2018, a little more than a year before the company’s IPO, valuing the business at $48 billion. SoftBank still is looking for more investors for its Vision Fund.
There’s been so much money thrown at technology companies in particular, it’s a wonder that any of them need public money. CB Insights’ 2018 report on 355 highly valued tech companies found that the group had raised more than $104 billion across more than 1,900 deals since 2000. Thirty-two of them had entered the $1 billion club since 2015, making them officially unicorn creatures with near-mythical status. But they do need to go public, of course. Lots of investors, including private equity, are looking to cash out and make a return. They just seem to be more patient than usual, with some waiting for longer than average to cash out. So a long list of companies finally put themselves up for public sale this year: Uber, Pinterest and Lyft, to name a few. Of course, all this attention to the IPO market belies the fact that there are substantial numbers of companies going private too, through mergers and acquisitions. Last year, global going-private M&A reached a record $154.3 billion in volume with 164 deals, according to Dealogic.