An obscure biotech company has gone public! 2016’s IPO drought is over!
Not a single venture backed company went public in January.
That was a shock, even to people expecting a weak market for exits this year. It’s the longest period without an IPO since September 11, according to Pitchbook.
That’s especially bad news when you consider there is some $90 billion in capital sitting in the IPO pipeline wondering what the age of unicorns has wrought.
Good news! The spell has been broken. Editas Medicine priced yesterday, marking the first VC-backed IPO since December 18. And it was up!
The problem: Biotech hasn’t been reflective of the appetite for software stocks. Nearly 60% of VC-backed IPOs last year were from healthcare. Meanwhile tech accounted for just 28% of VC backed IPOs in the second half of 2015.
According to Pitchbook, only one of the five largest tech IPOs from the last six months is trading above its IPO price: Atlassian. And that was a company founded outside the Valley, bootstrapped, raising venture capital pretty late it its life, mostly as secondaries. Pure Storage, Square, Rapid7, and Mindbody are all trading below opening price. Three have withdrawn IPOs over this two month slump.
Meantime, we’ve detailed plenty of other struggles: DoorDash’s struggle to complete its $1 billion round, now priced to $600 million and still not closed, layoffs at the formerly solid Birchbox and distress sale of Bezar after just a year of operation. Bear in mind: DoorDash has a committed lead in Sequoia Capital, Birchbox has always been pretty conservatively run, and Bezar at least was founded by a serial entrepreneur Bradford Shellhammer. Many founders don’t even have these advantages.
Pitchbook’s analysts don’t expect a year as week as 2008 when just six companies went public. I don’t either for at least one reason: The venture cycle was in a totally different place then. There are way more companies that will be forced to get out and accept the downround at some point this year.
The question is when it starts.