Slack’s direct listing route on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday may become all the rage among well-capitalized tech unicorns that don’t want to deal with big, fee-seeking investment banks.
“It’s not for everybody, and it’s not going to displace the current IPO. But it’s for companies that fit a specific profile, meaning they don’t need to necessarily raise capital but they want the other benefits of being a publicly traded company,” New York Stock Exchange Chief Operating Officer John Tuttle explained in an interview Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “So, this is a new option for them.”
A direct listing allows a company to go public sans underwriters. Rather, shares held by insiders are sold directly to new investors that want to get into the company. Using this process, companies are able to cut out the costs associated with a normal IPO and sidestep (usually) massive swings in their stocks on the first day of trading.
Slack is the latest buzzy tech player to go the direct listing route, following in the footsteps of Spotify (SPOT) in 2018. The networking upstart will list today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “WORK.” To Tuttle’s point, Slack will enter its public life with more than $800 million in cash (thanks to several funding rounds) despite having never been profitable.
With that cash war chest and a CEO like Stewart Butterfield who tends to seek the limelight, it’s not a shocker Slack is doing a direct listing.
“They are independent thinkers [Slack and Spotify management]. They don’t necessarily want to take the path that everybody has taken. They are doing what’s best for their company, customers and shareholders — and that’s why they are taking this approach today,” Tuttle added.