May
19
2021
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Can Squarespace dodge the direct-listing value trap?

It’s Squarespace direct-listing day, and the SMB web hosting and design shop’s reference price has been set at $50 per share.

According to quick math from the IPO-watching group Renaissance Capital, Squarespace is worth $7.4 billion at that price, calculated using a fully diluted share count. The company’s new valuation is sharply under where Squarespace raised capital in March, when it added $300 million to its accounts at a $10 billion post-money valuation, according to Crunchbase data.


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The company’s reference price, however, is just that: a reference. It doesn’t mean that much. As we’ve seen from other notable direct listings, a company’s opening price does not necessarily align with its formal reference price. Until Squarespace opens, whether it will be valued at a discount to its final private price is unclear.

While the benefits of a direct listing are understood, the post-listing performance for well-known direct listings is less obvious. Indeed, Coinbase is currently under its reference price after starting its life as a public company at a far-richer figure, and Spotify’s share price is middling at best compared to its 2018-era direct-listing reference price.

This morning, we’re going over Squarespace’s recently disclosed Q2 and full-2021 guidance. Then we’ll ask how its expectations compare to its reference price-defined pre-trading valuation. Finally, we’ll set some stakes in the ground regarding historical direct-listing results and what we might expect from the company as it adds a third set of data to our quiver.

This will be lots of fun, so let’s get into the numbers!

Squarespace’s Q2

Per Squarespace’s own reporting, it expects revenues between $186 million and $189 million in Q2 2021, which it calculates as a growth rate of between 24% and 26%. That pace of growth at its scale is perfectly acceptable for a company going public.

For all of 2021, Squarespace expects revenues of $764 million to $776 million, which works out to a very similar 23% to 25% growth rate.

In profit terms, Squarespace only shared its “non-GAAP unlevered free cash flow,” which is a technical thing I have no time to explain. But what matters is that the company expects some non-GAAP unlevered free cash flow in Q2 2021 ($10 million to $13 million), and lots more in all of 2021 ($100 million to $115 million).

Feb
04
2020
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Does Asana’s planned direct listing reveal the company’s true value?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Asana, a well-known workplace productivity company, announced yesterday it has filed privately to go public. The San Francisco-based company is well-funded, having raised more than $200 million; well-known, due in part to its tech-famous founding duo; and valuable, having last raised at a $1.5 billion valuation.

Each of those factors — plus the fact that Asana is going public — makes the company worth exploring, but its plans to offer a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering make it irresistible.

Today, we’ll rewind through Asana’s fundraising and valuation history. Then, we’ll mix in what we know about its financial performance, growth rates and capital efficiency to see how much we can tell about the company as we count down to its public S-1 filing. The Asana flotation is going to be big news, so let’s get all our facts and figures straightened out.

Valuations and revenue

Jan
05
2020
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CrowdStrike’s CEO on how to IPO, direct listings and what’s ahead for SaaS startups

A few days before Christmas, TechCrunch caught up with CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz to chat about his company’s public offering, direct listings and his expectations for the 2020 IPO market. We also spoke about CrowdStrike’s product niche — endpoint security — and a bit more on why he views his company as the Salesforce of security.

The conversation is timely. Of the 2019 IPO cohort, CrowdStrike’s IPO stands out as one of the year’s most successful debuts. As 2020’s IPO cycle is expected to be both busy and inclusive of some of the private market’s biggest names, Kurtz’s views are useful to understand. After all, his SaaS security company enjoyed a strong pricing cycle, a better-than-expected IPO fundraising haul and strong value appreciation after its debut.

Notably, CrowdStrike didn’t opt to pursue a direct listing; after chatting with the CEO of recent IPO Bill.com concerning why his SaaS company also decided on a traditional flotation, we wanted to hear from Kurtz as well. The security CEO called the current conversation around direct listings a “great debate,” before explaining his perspective.

Pulling from a longer conversation, what follows are Kurtz’s four tips for companies gearing up for a public offering, why his company elected chose a traditional public offering over a more exotic method, comments on endpoint security and where CrowdStrike fits inside its market, and, finally, quick notes on upcoming debuts.

The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How to go public successfully

Share often

What’s most important is the fact that when we IPO’d in June of 2019, we started the process three years earlier. And that is the number one thing that I can point to. When [CrowdStrike CFO Burt Podbere] and I went on the road show everybody knew us, all the buy side investors we had met with for three years, the sell side analysts knew us. The biggest thing that I would say is you can’t go on a road show and have someone not know your company, or not know you, or your CFO.

And we would share — as a private company, you share less — but we would share tidbits of information. And we built a level of consistency over time, where we would share something, and then they would see it come true. And we would share something else, and they would see it come true. And we did that over three years. So we built, I believe, trust with the street, in anticipation of, at some point in the future, an IPO.

Practice early

We spent a lot of time running the company as if it was public, even when we were private. We had our own earnings call as a private company. We would write it up and we would script it.

You’ve seen other companies out there, if they don’t get their house in order it’s very hard to go [public]. And we believe we had our house in order. We ran it that way [which] allowed us to think and operate like a public company, which you want to get out of the way before you come become public. If there’s a takeaway here for folks that are thinking about [going public], run it and act like a public company before you’re public, including simulated earnings calls. And once you become public, you already have that muscle memory.

Raw numbers matter

The third piece is [that] you [have to] look at the numbers. We are in rarified air. At the time of IPO we were the fastest growing SaaS company to IPO ever at scale. So we had the numbers, we had the growth rate, but it really was a combination of preparation beforehand, operating like a public company, […] and then we had the numbers to back it up.

TAM is key, even at scale

One last point, we had the [total addressable market, or TAM] as well. We have the TAM as part of our story; security and where we play is a massive opportunity. So we had that market opportunity as well.


On this topic, Kurtz told TechCrunch two interesting things earlier in the conversation. First that what many people consider as “endpoint security” is too constrained, that the category includes “traditional endpoints plus things like mobile, plus things like containers, IoT devices, serverless, ephemeral cloud instances, [and] on and on.” The more things that fit under the umbrella of endpoint security, CrowdStrike’s focus, the bigger its market is.

Kurtz also discussed how the cloud migration — something that builds TAM for his company’s business — is still in “the early innings,” going on to say that in time “you’re going to start to see more critical workloads migrate to the cloud.” That should generate even more TAM for CrowdStrike and its competitors, like Carbon Black and Tanium.


Why CrowdStrike opted for a traditional IPO instead of a direct listing

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