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Report: Slack is planning a direct IPO in 2019, like Spotify did last year

The interoffice messaging platform probably has enough cash on hand to IPO without an underwriter. Boo hoo, Goldman Sachs.

Report: Slack is planning a direct IPO in 2019, like Spotify did last year
Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack [Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images]
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Slack may bypass the marquee IPO underwriters like Goldman Sachs and go directly to the market with its upcoming public offering. So says a new report from the Wall Street Journal. If Slack does so, it will be the second major company to use a direct listing after Spotify did last April on the New York Stock Exchange. The Spotify IPO was considered by most to be a success.

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The report says Slack is likely to hold its IPO in the second quarter of this year. The San Francisco-based company currently plans to use a direct listing, the WSJ report says, but it could also change its plans before the time comes.

We reached out to Slack for comment and will update if we hear back.

When traditional underwriters handle a big IPO, they line up big institutional investors ahead of time, and this helps establish the asking price for the stock when trading opens. A good deal of money is also made up front for the IPO-ing company.

Slack can afford to go without that quick cash. The company raised $427 million in new funding in August, giving it a valuation of $7.1 billion. On the plus side, Slack would avoid paying large underwriting fees, and its employees would avoid a waiting period before selling their stock.

In 2018, Slack had more than 8 million daily active users, including 3 million paying users. The company launched in 2013, offering a more functional way of conducting interoffice messaging and content sharing.

The company has enjoyed lots of media attention and investor hype, and likely deserved it. We’ll know for sure when the company goes public this year.

About the author

Fast Company Senior Writer Mark Sullivan covers emerging technology, politics, artificial intelligence, large tech companies, and misinformation. An award-winning San Francisco-based journalist, Sullivan's work has appeared in Wired, Al Jazeera, CNN, ABC News, CNET, and many others.

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