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January 7, 2022

The “unicorn phenomenon” that’s ushered in massive fundraising rounds for startups over the past decade is “finally blowing up” and manifesting itself in a record wave of IPO activity, says Pitchbook venture analyst Cameron Stanfill. Thanks in part to the trillions of venture capital dollars spent on startups over the past decade, he says the trend of buzzy billion-dollar firms nabbing sky-high public market valuations isn’t likely to cool down in 2022.

A record 2,388 firms raised $453 billion while going public in 2021—the highest annual deal volume ever, according to Ernst & Young. In the U.S., deal volume also broke records, with nearly 1,100 companies going public and raising close to $260 billion. Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, online brokerage Robinhood and Tesla rival Rivian were among firms captivating investors and fueling a record-smashing wave of initial public offerings and direct listings.

Now, private equity giant TPG, food delivery service Instacart and meme-stock purveyor Reddit are among firms preparing for 2022 public debuts. Stanfill expects the number of deals could possibly hit a new high in 2022, but he’s not so sure about an increase in deal value. “That’s harder to predict,” he explains, citing the uncertainty around “outlier-style” megadeals, like those pulled off by Coinbase and Gen-Z gaming platform Roblox, which opted for a direct listing in March after delaying a trading debut in 2020 amid concerns of exuberant post-IPO price spikes. If it finally goes public, payments giant Stripe—the country’s most valuable startup, worth nearly $100 billion—could help mint a new IPO record.

00:00 IPOs in 2021
00:19 Reddit
00:43 Trump Media
1:04 Discord
1:37 Instacart
2:09 Impossible Foods
2:34 Stripe
2:59 Chimes
3:09 TPG

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