This year hasn’t exactly been a blockbuster for the IPO markets. Venture funding has tanked and fewer startups have dared to step into the public arena.
Will 2023 be the comeback year for IPOs? What will it take for the public market to thaw? Here are the Crunchbase News staff’s top picks for the companies we think could go public next year.
And if some of these sound familiar, it’s because they are: In our 2022 edition of this list, we predicted many of these might go public this year. Little did we know that the IPO markets would stall. So here we are again, offering up some thoughts on who might make public debuts, if and when IPOs start happening again.
Enterprise tech and cybersecurity
Arctic Wolf: It wasn’t that long ago when Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Arctic Wolf seemed IPO bound. The company raised $150 million in a Series F in July 2021, taking its valuation from $1.3 billion to $4.3 billion. At that time, then-CEO Brian NeSmith said an IPO was likely the next logical move. Then the market changed drastically, and in October the managed security provider raised $401 million in convertible notes led by existing investor Owl Rock. Convertible notes work like a short-term loan, but these notes are repaid to the investor at a later point in equity — i.e. after an IPO — typically at a discount. The managed security space can support large players and Arctic Wolf has grown large since being founded in 2012. Perhaps those notes turn to equity in 2023.
Databricks: Everyone has been on Databricks for a while. As recently as February, CEO Ali Ghodsi talked about going public, but offered no timeline. The market has only grown colder for IPOs since then, but this is a company that ended 2021 with more than $800 million in annual recurring revenue. It’s big and growing. It also hit a post-money valuation of $38 billion after raising a $1.6 billion Series H led by Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global in August 2021. And that big Series H came just seven months after the company raised $1 billion at a $28 billion valuation. That valuation may be what is keeping the San Francisco-based company from going public. Nevertheless, Databricks — which creates tools and products to help companies view both structured and unstructured data in a single location — could look to 2023 to finally offer employees and investors the liquidity they’ve waited for.
Flexport: The supply chain is still top of mind, so maybe some company will ride that to the public market. San Francisco-based Flexport, which was on our IPO list last year, locked up a $935 million Series E in February led by Andreessen Horowitz and MSD Partners at an $8 billion valuation. The global freight forwarder and logistics platform moved nearly $19 billion in merchandise across 112 countries in 2021, even as global supply chains suffered from multiple disruptions. In total, the startup has already raised more than $2 billion, according to Crunchbase data. Despite a down VC market this year, logistic and supply chain startups still were able to raise cash from private investors. Maybe they can do the same with public ones?
— Chris Metinko
Fintech and banking
Stripe: The most obvious and one of the most successful fintech startups to add to this list is online payments company Stripe, which is co-headquartered in London and Dublin. It is the fifth most valued startup on the The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, and was most recently valued in a 2021 financing at $95 billion. Founded by brothers Patrick Collison, its CEO, and John Collison, its president, Stripe is now 12 years old and has raised more than $2 billion in funding. The company processed $640 billion in payments in 2021 up 60% from the prior year. It was said to have $12 billion in revenue in 2021 according to Forbes. As a result of the market correction, the company lowered its internal valuation in 2022 to $74 billion. The company filed its intention to go public in July 2021 but has not yet set a date. It cut around 1,100 jobs, or 14% of its workforce, earlier this year.
Revolut: London-based Revolut is the second most valuable European fintech, valued at $33 billion as of July 2021. The company is 7 years old and has raised $1.7 billion in funding. Founded by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko, Revolut took off as it made transferring money in different currencies easy for those who work or travel in multiple countries. Revolut has not initiated layoffs in 2022 — in fact, it has kept hiring. The company announced revenueof 261 million pounds in 2020 but has not posted revenue for 2021. Revolut has 25 million retail customers and applied for a banking license in the U.K. in 2021.
Plaid: San Francisco-based Plaid connects user bank accounts to fintech apps. The company was founded nine years ago by Zachary Perret, its CEO, and William Hockey, a board member. It was last valued in Series D funding in August 2021 at $13.4 billion and has raised $734 million over time. Plaid’s revenue in 2020 was said to be around $170 million in an article by Forbes. Visa planned to purchase the company in 2020 for $5 billion, which was halted by regulators the following year. In December 2022, Plaid laid off 20% of its staff, or around 260 employees, as Peret said that slower than expected growth after the pandemic meant that Plaid’s “pace of cost growth outstripped our pace of revenue growth.” On the other hand, Peret also said that the number of customers Plaid serves has grown 50% in the past year.
— Gené Teare
Consumer platforms and services
Instacart: Instacart is kind of the startup equivalent of the “always a bridesmaid never a bride” cliche. It’s always high on lists of likely public market entrants, but has never actually consummated an IPO. Well, we think 2023 will be the year. (Yes, we said that last year too, but cut us some slack.) An offering started looking even more likely after the company confirmed in May that it filed a confidential draft registration with U.S. securities regulators, with a debut currently expected to come next year. The filing followed a steep write-down, as Instacart cut its valuation in March from $39 billion to $24 billion.
Guild Education: Denver-based Guild was also on our list last year, but all told, it still looks like a strong IPO candidate. The Denver-based company, which offers a platform for extending employer-covered education and upskilling to workers, has raised over $640 million to date, including $265 million in a June Series F round. It’s particularly noteworthy that the company secured a big round in a period in which overall edtech funding has been declining, indicating investors see a lot to like in the business model.
Faire: If you’ve been around long enough and raised enough money, inevitably investors will be looking for a return. This notion applies quite succinctly to Faire, an online marketplace for independent retailers and brands that has raised $1.7 billion since 2017, per Crunchbase data. The company’s business model could also see some favorable headwinds as consumers return to local stores, which stock from its suppliers, after a pandemic-driven shift to predominantly online shopping.
TripActions: TripActions is another heavily funded company that’s often bandied about as a likely IPO candidate. The 7-year-old, Palo Alto-headquartered company provides corporate cards and expense management tools, with a focus on business travel. Startup investors certainly seem to like the brand. The company pulled in $300 million in an October Series G round at a post-money valuation of $9.2 million. TripActions also is already making progress on the IPO path — it filed confidential paperwork for an offering with the SEC, per a September report.
— Joanna Glasner
Life sciences, agtech and foodtech
Lyra Health: We’re still waiting for Lyra — or maybe Headspace Health or some other teletherapy company — to go public. A first-mover teletherapy startup that took the direct-to-employer route in 2016, Lyra Health has worked with companies including Palantir, Zoom and Amgen to provide teletherapy long before insurance companies at-large embraced the practice. At the beginning of this year the startup raised $235 million in Series G funding, upping its valuation to $5.58 billion. Lyra held back during the 2021 IPO mad rush its competitor Talkspace participated in, but it’s more than ready for the public markets.
Plenty: We consider vertical farming and urban farming a solid bet next year. Thin-margin grocery stores are being hit hard by logistics and supply issues, so the idea of a produce farm located close to consumers seems pretty ideal. Vertical farming startup Plenty rang in 2022 with $400 million in Series E funding, almost half of all the funding the company has raised since it got started in 2014. Plenty began building out a vertical farming “campus” in Virginia, where it would grow strawberries for the large farming conglomerate Driscoll’s. There aren’t that many agriculture startups that went public — AeroFarms almost made the leap via SPAC in 2021 until funding closed up — but Plenty seems ripe to go public.
Tempus: Armed with $1.3 billion in funding over nine funding rounds, precision medicine startup Tempus is easily one of the most intriguing companies to come out of the pandemic. Its technology platform is different from most biotech upstarts that focus on developing molecules. Tempus scooped up two clinical trial-related startups and has its hand in multiple parts of the drug-making lifespan — something we don’t see outside of giant pharma companies such as Amgen or Merck. Tempus raised $275 million in debt financing in October for its ability to leverage AI in drug discovery and genomic sequencing.
— Keerthi Vedantam
Outside the box
Canva: Design-software maker Canva has reeled in more than $572 million in funding and a $40 billion valuation from venture investors. The Australia-based company is known for its design software for nondesigners, but new tools rolled out this year show its ambitions are even bigger. It recently launched an AI writing tool that promises to help automate marketing copywriting, around the same time that OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool set the tech world abuzz. Investors seem to be increasingly drawn to technology that automates even the most creative of fields, and Canva is at the head of the pack in that group. At least one of Canva’s biggest investors is feeling more bullish on the company again: Franklin Templeton increased the value of its stake in Canva last month, after the design softwaremaker was previously hit by a series of writedowns.
ICON: We thought it’d be fun to include a name that doesn’t generally grace the likely IPO lists, and that’s where ICON comes in. The Austin-based construction technology company, known for its iconic 3D-printed homes, has raised more than $450 million in venture funding in the past five years. It’s the kind of branded, consumer-facing technology company that might benefit from the higher public profile that comes with a listing on a major exchange.
— Marlize van Romburgh and Joanna Glasner
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