As a slew of unicorn startups gears up to go public in 2020, they may face a higher bar than did 2019's crop: show profits--or at least a clear path to them.
Last year's expected IPO tidal wave slowed to a trickle after investors soured on high-growth--and highly unprofitable--companies. If the underwhelming debuts from tech darlings Lyft and Uber didn't put off companies from pursuing a public offering in 2019, WeWork's disastrous IPO process caused more than one company to pause their plans. Which means a robust backlog of companies are looking to go public in 2020, according to a report by Renaissance Capital, a provider of institutional IPO research. It also means public investors are eager to see a lot less red ink on those S-1s.
Here's a cheat sheet of the hottest companies that may hit the public market this year, listed alphabetically.
In an uncommon move, the home-rental company announced its IPO intentions in a one-line statement in September last year. Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky confirmed that Airbnb is targeting a 2020 IPO at a conference in November, noting the company has "more money in the bank than [the $3.2 billion] we've raised." While his comments have fueled rumors that Airbnb, which was last valued at $31 billion in 2017, could opt for a direct listing instead of an initial public offering, Chesky hasn't offered details on which route his company may take. At the conference, he said his company was previously profitable in 2018 and 2017, though he declined to discuss 2019 financials.
The workplace management software co-founded by Facebook veteran Dustin Moskovitz is reportedly considering a direct listing in 2020, the Financial Times reported in December. The company has raised more than $200 million in funding, according to Crunchbase data, and its last financing round in November 2018 valued the company at $1.5 billion. Competitors include privately-held Basecamp and Bellevue, Washington-based Smartsheet, which had a successful IPO in April 2018.
The New York-based mattress company reportedly has tapped Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to lead its initial public offering, according to Bloomberg. The company has made moves to expand beyond the mattress category and cast itself as a leader in the much broader sleep and wellness market by selling bedding, lamps, and CBD-infused gummies to help you sleep. In December, the company added two independent directors to its board and hired retail veteran Emilie Arel as president and chief commercial officer, which suggests the company is strengthening its corporate governance ahead of an upcoming IPO.
The Softbank-backed food delivery startup led by co-founder Tony Xu hired Uber alumni Prabir Adarkar as CFO in the summer of 2018. Since then, the company has raised more than $1 billion in funding and tripled its presence to more than 4,000 cities across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia. A job listing on LinkedIn shows the company is hiring someone to assist in the preparation of "quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filings," including forms 10-Q and 10-K, which are the official forms for quarterly and annual reports, respectively. Last November, Bloomberg reported the unprofitable company is exploring going public via a direct listing.
Co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij announced on GitLab's website in 2018 that he is planning to take his company public on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. The hyper-specificity is a token of GitLab's unusual culture of radical transparency. The all-remote company, which has more than 1,000 employees, is known for posting its meetings and presentations online. It gained unicorn status in 2018, after raising a $100 million from investment firm Iconiq Capital. Last year, it raised an additional $268 million, which doubled its valuation to $2.75 billion.
Apoorva Mehta, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based grocery delivery startup, told CNN at the beginning of last year that an IPO "is definitely on the horizon." Sagar Sanghvi, who had been working as VP of finance, was promoted to the CFO role in the summer of 2019, replacing former CFO Ravi Gupta, who left to join Sequoia Capital as a partner. Late last year, the company also added two new positions to its leadership team: chief revenue officer and chief accounting officer. Instacart has raised nearly $2 billion since its founding in 2012. It was last valued at $7.6 billion.
The New York City-based insurance startup reportedly has hired Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to take it public, according to a July 2019 report from venture capital firm Adit Ventures, which holds a position in the company. The company was co-founded by Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger in 2015, and counts Softbank among its investors. It has raised nearly $500 million in funding since inception and is reportedly valued at around $2 billion. The business added several new members to its finance team in 2019.
Founded 15 years ago this summer by CEO Noah Glass, Olo is the only company in this list that is not technically a unicorn yet. The business sells online ordering software to more than 300 restaurant chains, including Applebees, Wingstop, and the Cheesecake Factory, and has raised a little over $63 million in total funding. Last year, investment firm Tiger Global bought an $18 million stake in a secondary transaction at an undisclosed valuation. Still, the New York City-based company, named after the term "online ordering," is reportedly considering going public at a valuation as high as $1 billion later this year, according to Bloomberg. In December, the company also hired Nithya Das as general counsel, who lists "IPO readiness" and "IPO execution" as some of her strengths on her LinkedIn profile.
Early last year, the health insurance startup filled its finance chief position with Sid Sankaran, who previously served as AIG's CFO. In the fall, Oscar Health also hired Uber alum Meghan Verena Joyce as chief operating officer, a position that had remained vacant for three years. The New York City-based business co-founded by Mario Schlosser, Kevin Nazemi, and Joshua Kushner--Ivanka Trump's brother-in-law--has been beefing up its finance team since 2018, which was also the year it last raised funding.
The fashion e-commerce company is reportedly considering going public in 2020. In an interview with Inc. last year, co-founder and CEO Manish Chandra declined to comment on IPO plans, but confirmed that a company representative attended a gathering in Silicon Valley about direct listings. The Redwood City, California-based startup recently published a job listing seeking a director of finance and investor relations to "develop the overall investor outreach strategy," which is typical for public companies.
Led by co-founder Bastian Lehmann, the food-delivery startup announced it had confidentially filed for an IPO in February last year. Following the WeWork fiasco, however, Lehmann all but confirmed the company put its IPO on hold, saying at a conference in October, "We will IPO when we believe we find the right time for the business and the right time in the markets." Late last year, the company closed operations in Mexico City, its only international market, and laid off an unspecified number of employees. The move revived rumors about a possible sale, first reported by Recode last summer.
The no-fee investing platform hired Amazon veteran Jason Warnick as its first-ever chief financial officer in November 2018, the same year co-founder and co-CEO Baiju Bhatt told an audience at TechCrunch Disrupt the company was readying for an IPO. Last year, it hired Google veteran Gretchen Engster Howard as its chief operating officer and added Dan Gallagher, a former SEC commissioner, to its board of directors. It was last valued at $7.6 billion after a $323 million funding round in July 2019.
The cloud computing data business founded in 2012 changed leadership in 2019, one of many examples of CEOs leaving their posts last year. New CEO Frank Slootman, who previously held that role at publicly traded software company ServiceNow, said on a CNBC appearance in December that the company already has "the scale and the velocity to go out." Slootman, who helmed ServiceNow when it went public in 2012, brought along former ServiceNow CFO Michael Scarpelli to be Snowflake's new chief financial officer. "I'd like to be better on profitability, I'd like to be better on cash because the core economics are really important," added Slootman on CNBC, noting that "just having scale and growth, as we now know, it's not enough." The company has raised more than $920 million in funding to date, and has a $3.9 billion valuation.
After tripling its valuation to $4 billion in under the year, the travel-management company hired former Snowflake CFO Thomas Tuchscherer as its first-ever chief financial officer in December 2019. CEO Ariel Cohen co-founded the Palo Alto-based business with chief technology officer Ilan Twig in 2015. While the company has not declared any intentions of going public, Tuchscherer told the Wall Street Journal in December that "getting the company ready for an IPO is a prospect."
In February 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired business database provider Zoominfo and subsequently took on the business's name. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company is led by Henry Schuck, who founded DiscoverOrg in 2007. Last November, the company announced it had filed confidentially for an IPO with the SEC.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Dustin Moskovitz's last name and Shai Wininger's first name.