Where are the women in the top IPOs of 2019?

Ringing the bell for many of the companies hitting the public market this year are mostly men.
Ringing the bell for many of the companies hitting the public market this year are mostly men.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake
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From Dara Khosrowshahi’s Uber to Adam Neumann’s WeWork, it’s a man’s world, still, at the top of the biggest IPOs in 2019.

Of the 10 biggest companies that have gone public or filed to go public this year, none is led by a woman, and the average number of women on their boards is less than two. Excluding WeWork, which filed its registration confidentially, the average number of women on the list of the highest paid executives, disclosed in each company’s S-1 filing, is 0.56.

Drawing on valuation data provided by PitchBook, our analysis of the gender breakdown of executives and directors focused on newly public companies with a pre-IPO valuation of at least $1 billion. For companies currently in IPO registration, we considered those with recent fundraising rounds suggesting a valuation higher than $1 billion. (Software company PagerDuty, which went public in April, has a female CEO but did not make the cutoff to be included in the top 10 companies by pre-IPO valuation.)

For comparison, we also looked at the numbers for Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to see how women were represented at some of the biggest IPOs of yesteryear. 

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from our analysis:

  • The most women on any executive team or corporate board is three, according to S-1 filings.
  • There are zero women on the executive teams of cybersecurity company Crowdstrike and Avantor Performance Materials, a chemicals company.
  • Only three of the companies with public S-1 filings listed even one woman among the highest-paid executives.
  • A popular role for female executives at newly public and soon-to-be-public companies is general counsel. There are more women serving as in-house lawyers than in any other particular senior role.
  • Video conferencing company Zoom is the rarest of tech unicorns not only because it’s profitable, but because its senior management team has more women than men. CEO and founder Eric Yuan is the only man named in the S-1 in the section about the executive team.
  • Uber and Lyft both have more women on their boards than other big companies that dominated the IPO market in previous years. Google and Facebook had no women on their corporate boards when they filed to go public; Amazon had one female director at the time of its registration.

The number of women in the most senior ranks of management at Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft haven’t changed much at the companies since they went public, but each has at least one more woman on the board than at the time of its IPO.

*Since The We Company’s filing is confidential, we used Crunchbase as an alternative source.

**Includes director nominee.

***Recent executive and board member numbers were pulled from proxy filings except for Amazon’s and Microsoft’s, which were pulled from the companies’ websites.