US companies are taking greater control over their stock market debuts by turning to direct listings, new technologies and Spacs. Taken together, these changes form a new playbook for companies, promising executives a greater say in the exercise while dimming the role of investment banks.
Direct listings let existing shareholders, including employees, sell their stock on the open market on the first day of trading, but do not allow companies to raise capital by selling newly created shares. This is a departure from the IPO, where investment banks typically allocate new stock to institutional investors, such as mutual funds and hedge funds, picking out attractive investors likely to hold the shares for the long term. Recent direct listings typify the kind of company that is able to list shares without raising money: well-known technology names with prominent backers. The oldest of the four, Palantir, was founded 17 years ago and had raised billions of dollars from private investors over that time.