Nearly a year into a deep bear market for new tech offerings, the concept of a hot, pre-IPO round sounds like an artifact from a bygone era.
But really, it wasn’t long ago. Just last year, in fact, big, late-stage rounds for companies on the cusp of a public market debut were all the rage.
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Per Crunchbase data, venture and growth investors funded over 140 rounds in 2021 for companies that have since gone public. Collectively, funded companies raised more than $16 billion in pre-IPO funding.
How did that turn out? To put it mildly, most underperformed expectations on the public markets. Below, we take a look at the six largest pre-IPO round recipients and how they’ve fared since going public.
Pre-IPO funding: Raised $10.7 billion in total private funding, including $5.2 billion in rounds announced in January and July 2021.
Recent enterprise value 1: $17.4 billion
What happened: Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian, which put the first of its electric pickup trucks on the road a year ago, was a darling of startup investors, counting Amazon, Ford and T. Rowe Price among its lead backers. When the company IPO’d in November 2021, public investors were pretty besotted as well, pushing the company’s initial market cap above $100 billion — higher than GM or Ford. Shares have fallen sharply since but, buoyed by strong vehicle demand, haven’t collapsed.
Pre-IPO funding: Raised over $5.5 billion in total private funding, including $3.4 billion announced in February 2021.
Recent enterprise value: $4.1 billion
What happened: Robinhood secured fame and huge VC checks for its zero-fee stock and crypto trading platform. When it debuted on Nasdaq in late July 2021, shares surged initially but peaked shortly after. Since then, it’s been mostly down, with the company currently valued far below the $11 billion private valuation secured the year before its IPO.
Pre-IPO round: Raised $2 billion in known venture funding over the years, including a $750 million Series F in February 2021.
Recent enterprise value: $6.4 billion
What happened: UiPath’s business model combined a lot of tech investor buzzwords, with a SaaS platform employing robotic process automation to boost workforce productivity. The company saw an enthusiastic reception after going public in April 2021, seeing its market cap peak at over $40 billion. Shares are now down over 80% from the top, but UiPath shares got a boost recently after a favorable earnings report.
Pre-IPO round: $520 million Series H in January 2021
Recent enterprise value: $18.9 billion
What happened: User-generated game platform Roblox went public via direct listing in March 2021 under buoyant market conditions. This resulted in an initial valuation of over $41 billion, with shares nearly doubling once again by their November 2021 peak. Since then, shares have headed steadily lower. While far below Roblox’s debut valuation, it’s still a tremendously valuable company.
Pre-IPO round: $500 million Series B in January 2021
Recent enterprise value: $350 million
What happened: EQRx had a pitch that venture investors dug: It develops cheaper versions of expensive drugs for oncology and immune-inflammatory diseases. After going public via SPAC in December 2021, however, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based EQRx hasn’t convinced investors it can execute on that vision.
Pre-IPO round: $370 million in January 2021
Recent enterprise value: $7.1 billion
What happened: Online lender SoFi, which went public via SPAC in June 2021, was one of the year’s higher-profile fintech debuts. But shares have been trending down for the past four quarters, with the stock trading at an all-time low this month. It’s a common pattern for recently public companies in the fintech space, which has been one of the hardest-hit sectors in the current downturn.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
Enterprise value is sourced from Yahoo Finance and includes cash and debt levels from the company’s most recent quarterly report.↩
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