This was a huge year for IPOs, and 2015 is looking likely to be pretty great as well.
That’s at least based on what some of America’s most high-profile private companies are saying and doing. Vice Media told the Financial Times (paywall) this week that it might explore an IPO next year. Snapchat just hired a star banker from Credit Suisse. And Uber is raising money through Goldman Sachs’ private clients, something Facebook did a few months before it went public.
In a Tech IPO Pipeline report released this morning, the startup researcher CB Insights names all three of those companies, plus other big names such as Airbnb and Pinterest, as possible IPO candidates for next year.
(The report doesn’t mention Spotify, but it’s another one to keep an eye on).
But despite the jubilant environment for IPOs in 2014, there are also reasons to think next year might not be so smooth.
The falling oil price and a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve are just two possible catalysts for a rethink among investors. ”I think we are going to have a disruption in the capital markets, where we don’t have any issuance for a period of time,” David Etheridge, the head of IPOs at the NYSE, tells Quartz. “There is always some unanticipated event that can happen on a macro level.”
Now is also a great time for privately held tech companies to stay private. There is plentiful pre-IPO financing available from venture capital funds, sovereign wealth funds and even mutual funds now, which means companies that would have gone public in a previous era may never make it to the stock market. (Instead, they stay private for longer, and often are bought by bigger companies.)
Many think that’s bad for the equity markets, because it denies ordinary investors the opportunity to invest in great companies during their rapid growth phases, when returns are often stratospheric. But even the head of IPOs at America’s biggest stock exchange is not too fussed. “I think what is so cool about those companies is that they are really well-funded, so there is not going to be any rush or internal pressure that they have to go [public],” says Etheridge. “I think they will be able to choose to go at the right time in the company’s life.”
It remains unclear whether there will be another flagship IPO next year, like Twitter’s in 2014 or Alibaba’s this year. Even if an Uber or a Vice decides to take the plunge, we probably won’t know about it for a while. After all, this year, (which we warned you would be the year of the secret IPO) many of the companies that went public did so after filing confidentially.