IPO

2019: Big Payment, Commerce And Tech IPOs Loom On The Horizon

Tech companies are taking more time to reach their initial public offerings, with the median gap between their early financing and their IPOs hitting 10.1 years in 2017, up from 6.9 years in 2013, according to a recent estimate. A robust supply of private capital reportedly is one of the main reasons for that, along with corporate cultures that are averse to public markets.

But relatively high stock prices and access to more capital remain prime temptations, and there is little doubt that 2019 will bring more than few exciting — and telling — IPOs. Among the most anticipated are IPOs that will impact the mobility-as-a-service and ride-hailing ecosystems, social media, and data analytics. There is no guarantee any of them will happen, of course, though some seem much more likely than others.

Here are the five potential IPOs related to payments, commerce and digital technology that could happen within the next 12 months. Even if one or more of them fail to materialize, talk will continue about these IPOs, which itself will help guide the thinking and moves of industry peers, competitors and innovators. After all, speculation and anticipation serve as the brush-and-paper, quick-burning fuel of the bonfire known as the economy.

Uber

This potential IPO is less speculative than most — in the midst of the holiday season, in fact, Uber filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that sets the stage for it to go public. Expectations have fixed in the first quarter of 2019 for the Uber IPO, which would be among the largest tech-related public offerings ever, according to analysts, and which could value Uber at up to $120 billion (that’s territory occupied by the likes of IBM and McDonald’s). Uber’s expected move to raise capital on the public market comes as the company makes strides to repair its reputation from its sexual harassment scandals and not only build dominance in food delivery, scooters and autonomous cars, but to create its own payments-and-commerce ecosystem via the launch of a (for now) closed-loop payment offering, called Uber Cash.

Lyft

Lyft, too, is racing toward an IPO, not content to just let Uber drive away with all the capital. (Try the veal and tip your servers — we are here all week!) Late in 2019, the ride-hailing provider reportedly “confidentially filed” a draft registration with the SEC — such a filing is among steps needed to list shares and sell them on public exchanges. Observers generally expect the IPO to result in a valuation for Lyft that is higher than the $15.1 billion that had been seen earlier in the year. Lyft typically takes the second spot behind Uber when it comes to their businesses, but as both head toward their anticipated public offerings, a new study finds that Lyft is growing twice as fast as Uber. Together, Uber and Lyft control almost 98 percent of the U.S. consumer ridesharing market.

Palantir

Wil Big Data and big analytics lead to a big IPO for Palantir, a U.S. company that sells data analytics software (and which in 2016 bought data visualization firm Silk, another sign of Palantir’s intentions)? Many tech observers sure think so, though the company retains its reputation for secrecy (not surprising, given that it reportedly has or has served clients that make up the bulk of the U.S. government defense-and-intelligence complex, among other companies and organizations). Data is supposed to be the oil of the digital, global economy, and that’s what could help make this company — which in 2013 rejected the prospect of going public, apparently due to the difficulties of public scrutiny — an even more appealing target for investors. An IPO reportedly could happen in the second half of 2019. “Morgan Stanley estimated a public offering in 2020 in the range of $36 billion to $41 billion,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Pinterest

This April might bring more than the blooming of flowers — early spring could also see Pinterest going public. The social media platform, known for fashion, engagement and pet photos, inspirational quotes and other attributes — along with enabling users to buy products they see there — was reportedly hoping to select its IPO underwriters in January and then embark upon a public offering that could value the company at $12 billion or more. The expected move to the public markets comes amid a robust time for Pinterest. In September, Pinterest reached more than 250 million monthly active users, and is expected to generate more than $700 million in revenue this year — a 50 percent increase from 2017.

Airbnb

Well, will they or won’t they? That’s the question that has surrounded an Airbnb IPO for more than a little while. The latest? The online service, which matches travelers with people with rooms, apartments or houses for short-term rental, wants to be ready to go public on June 30 of next year and aims to have an IPO before 2020. Airbnb continues to strive for more market share in the short-term and vacation rental market, and took more than $1 billion in revenue in the third quarter, according to a report offering the first glimpse into the company’s revenue. You can be sure that focus will remain on this company all year long in order to pick any signs that an IPO is indeed about to happen.

That’s not all, though.

The PYMNTS New Orleans bureau is dedicated to the ideal of lagniappe — a term that carries big weight down in The Big Easy, and is defined as something given as a bonus or a gift, like a free 13th donut in a box of a dozen — so here are some other possible IPOs from the payments, commerce and tech space to watch.

Slack

Slack, the work-focused app, has recently stood as an example of how a company gains a high valuation while relying on private investment. Reports from December had Slack hiring Goldman Sachs for an IPO, with a potential valuation of more than $10 billion.

Instacart

The online food delivery service may have lost its Whole Foods business after the Amazon acquisition, as PYMNTS reported, and has seemed to have little trouble recently raising private capital. The company also continues to expand, recently announcing the national expansion of Instacart Pickup, a new grocery click-and-collect service that provides customers with broadened delivery and/or pickup options, enabling them to order via Instacart and pick up the groceries at retailers. Is an IPO in play? According to CEO Apoorva Mehta in recent comments, a public offering is “on the horizon” but Mehta gave no timeline.

Rackspace

The cloud computing provider, taken private in 2016 by Apollo Public Management, appears headed once more to the public markets, according to observers. The company could have a valuation of $10 billion.

Much can — and will — happen between now and any big tech-related IPO in 2019, forcing shifts in even the best plans. But it seems clear that some big names are indeed about to go public, and sooner rather than later.

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