Slack plans a direct listing

Slack, the workplace messaging app, plans to bypass the traditional route to an initial public offering by directly listing its shares… Slack, which plans to go public in the second quarter of this year, would follow in the footsteps of Spotify, which listed last year on the New York Stock Exchange by way of a direct listing, sidestepping the traditional process of an initial public offering. Unlike a conventional IPO, companies that go public through a direct listing do not sell new shares to raise money, which makes the process untenable for many companies seeking public ownership. Slack, which was valued at $7.1 billion in its latest fundraising in August, is one of several highly-valued tech companies — along with riding hailing apps Uber and Lyft— planning to go public in 2019… The company, whose investors include SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic, has been working with investment banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co ahead of the direct listing. However, the banks are unlikely to underwrite the offering as they would traditionally do in an IPO, enabling Slack to save money on fees but leaving it vulnerable to volatility… Slack was co-founded in 2014 by Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson, who worked at photo site Flickr.
 
James Fontanella-Khan, Nicole Bullock and Richard Waters

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