Despite the chaos and hardships of 2020, several private companies have done well enough that they’ll be able to go public once this year is finally in the rearview mirror.
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Some of the most hotly anticipated IPOs of 2021 will be offered by companies that directly benefited from the pandemic. Others come from companies that just managed to endure it. Either way, the general stock-buying public will soon be able to buy into several promising companies that were previously open to investments only from big shots in private equity and venture capital firms.
Here’s a list of companies carrying the buzz of forthcoming IPOs in 2021, many of which are already household names. It could be only a matter of time before one of these companies becomes the next Apple or Amazon.
Last updated: Dec. 11, 2020
One of America’s most valuable venture-backed private startups, Stripe just might be the unicorn of all unicorns. Its most recent valuation was $36 billion and it’s believed to be closing in on an unprecedented $100 billion valuation. The financial services and payment-processing platform, owned by a pair of billionaire brothers, raised $600 million earlier in the year and recently hauled in another undisclosed fundraising sum. Stripe’s business is booming thanks to a sharp increase in pandemic-induced e-commerce, and although a 2021 IPO is likely, it’s not yet certain.
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Better.com streamlined and simplified the home-buying and mortgage-lending process and cashed in on a wave of refinancing that followed historically low interest rates. The company was recently valued at $4 billion, but Better.com is hoping to see that number rise after a round of Series D fundraising brought in $200 million. It chose Morgan Stanley and Bank of America to lead its transition to the public market, which is likely in 2021.
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AppLovin is also working with Morgan Stanley in advance of a hotly anticipated 2021 IPO. After years of rumors that an initial public offering was imminent, that partnership is the first concrete move in that direction. The company has come a long way from its founding in 2012 as a platform for mobile game ads and now has expanded into game development.
AppLovin has been profitable from the beginning, but coronavirus shutdowns led to a surge in gaming and the company is expected to do $1.5 billion in 2020 and blow past its previous $2 billion valuation.
In November, Reuters was the first to report that Instacart enlisted the services of Goldman Sachs as it moves toward its IPO, which is likely in early 2021 at a valuation of roughly $30 billion. Like other private companies looking to make a public move, the grocery delivery service has benefited from the stay-at-home dynamic ushered in by the pandemic. It was recently valued at $17.7 billion but then ginned up $200 million in private fundraising.
Bumble revolutionized online dating by placing the onus of making the first move on its women users. Like Stripe, AppLovin, and Instacart, Bumble enjoyed a boost from COVID-19, which forced an even greater chunk of the dating scene online. The company is working with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to manage its IPO and is backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc. It will likely seek a valuation between $6 billion-$8 billion.
Robinhood changed the way common people invest their limited resources with a unique business model that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the change into a stock portfolio. Few companies can claim a bigger impact on millennial investing.
Robinhood was valued at $11.7 billion during its most recent round of private fundraising in September and has now hired Goldman Sachs to shepherd it through the early preparations for what is expected to be its 2021 IPO.
Business intelligence and big data analytics firm ThoughtSpot is currently improving its cloud-based offerings in what appears to be a move to accelerate growth in anticipation of a 2021 IPO. Unlike many of the companies on this list, ThoughtSpot was hit hard by the pandemic—its growth rate dropped from 108% to 88%.
The company’s current push toward improved cloud infrastructure and offerings is designed to offset that decline, but those efforts will almost certainly push back its IPO target date to fall of next year.
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If it’s hard to believe that one of the biggest brands in pet retail—a chain with 1,500 nationwide locations—is just now going public, then you should be grateful for your keen investment instincts. 2021 will represent Petco’s third trip down IPO lane. The company first went public in 1994, then went private after a buyout in 2000 before going public again in 2002 only to go private again a few years later.
Demand for pet supplies is booming and Petco is hoping to raise enough funds by going public to position itself to capitalize on the trend. It will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol WOOF.
Nextdoor found a niche in the crowded social media space by hyper-localizing online networking. The private network connects users at the neighborhood level and links people to each other as well as to local businesses, services, events, and news. It’s poised for a 2021 IPO after nine rounds of fundraising ended with a haul of more than $455 million. Interested investors can get on a waiting list as more information emerges.
Axios was the first to report in September that health care startup Oscar Health was making clear moves toward a 2021 IPO. The company was created in 2012 specifically to service customers through the Affordable Care Act but has since diversified into wider health insurance markets. So far it has raised roughly $1.5 billion from big names like Founders Fund, Alphabet, and the Kushner family’s Thrive Capital.
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John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article.
Photo disclaimer: Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some might be representational and not reflect the specific companies listed in this article.