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IPO Basics: What is an IPO and How Does It Work?

What is an IPO

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is when a private company plans to become public and sell its shares to the public. A company’s IPO can be a significant event and have profound consequences for investors, employees, and founders.

This article will explain the basics of an IPO, its workings, and the roles played by the different parties.

What’s an IPO?

An IPO refers to a private company’s initial offering of shares for public purchase. The company can raise capital by selling shares to investors who become co-owners. Investors can buy or sell shares on the stock exchange.

A company’s IPO can be a significant milestone. It can give it access to substantial capital, which it can use to expand and grow its business. Going public allows companies to improve their visibility in the marketplace and can help them attract new customers and partners.

What is an IPO?

There are several steps involved in going public via an IPO. These steps can be found below.

  1. Hiring an investment bank for the IPO process is the first step. An underwriter assists the company in preparing for an IPO and valuing it.
  2. Register with the Securities and Exchange Commission: Register your company with the Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ). This registration statement includes detailed information on the company’s operations, financial status, and risks. The SEC examines the registration statement and gives feedback to the company.
  3. Planning the offering: After the SEC approves the registration statement, the underwriters and company collaborate to plan the IPO offer. The underwriter and company determine the share offering, price, and timing.
  4. Roadshow – To pitch potential investors the IPO, the company and underwriter organize a roadshow. Roadshows are a series of presentations that institutional investors (e.g., mutual funds or pension funds) and individuals with a high net worth will see.
  5. The company and underwriter set the price. Based on the roadshow results and other factors, the company and the underwriter decided the final price at which shares would be sold.
  6. IPO Day: Investors are sold shares through an underwriter on the IPO day. After collecting the funds from investors, the underwriter transfers them to the company with no fees.
  7. The beginning of trading: Following the IPO, shares from the company are publicly listed on a stock exchange. The price of shares can be traded between investors, depending on demand and supply.

Who is involved in an IPO, and what are their responsibilities?

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) involves many parties.

  1. Company An IPO is the leading party that involves the company seeking to become public. Management is responsible for making decisions, creating documents, and working with the underwriters to decide the offering’s price and size.
  2. Underwriters: underwriters assist companies in preparing for IPOs and selling shares to the general public. These banks guide pricing, regulatory compliance, and marketing of the IPO for potential investors.
  3. Securities and Exchange Commission: SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is a regulator that regulates the securities market and makes sure that securities companies comply with all regulations. SEC examines the registration statements of companies and gives feedback. This is to ensure that potential investors know that all information is being disclosed and that all securities and regulatory laws have been complied with.
  4. Investors. Investors are individuals and institutions that purchase shares in an IPO. This includes institutional investors such as pension funds, mutual funds, and individuals.
  5. Stock Exchanges: After the IPO, company shares such as the New York Stock Exchange ( NYSE ) or the NASDAQ are listed on a stock market. Investors can buy or sell shares on the stock exchange.
  6. Accountants and Lawyers: Lawyers are crucial to the IPO process. These professionals assist the company in preparing legal and financial documents and ensuring regulatory compliance. They also provide advice on taxation and accounting questions.

An IPO is a complex process that involves many parties. These include the investor, company looking to become public, investors, legal counsel, accountants, and stock exchanges. Every party has a crucial role to play in an IPO’s success.

The Advantages and Drawbacks of an IPO

A company considering going public can make an Initial Public Offering (IPO). An IPO is an excellent way for companies to gain capital access and increase visibility. However, many disadvantages and advantages should be taken into consideration.

The advantages of an IPO

  1. Access to capital: The advantage of an IPO for a company is its access to a substantial capital pool. The company can sell shares to raise significant capital that can then be used for expansion and growth plans.
  2. More visibility and credibility. Going public could significantly improve a company’s visibility. This signal to investors and customers that the company can be trusted.
  3. Liquidity for shareholders: An initial public offering (IPO) allows shareholders of the company to dispose of their shares and receive the total value of their investments. It provides liquidity and an exit strategy for founders and early investors who want to exit.
  4. Stock options for employees: Being public may also offer employees stock options. This can provide a great incentive to retain and attract talent.

Advantages and disadvantages of an IPO

  1. High costs: Going public is a challenging decision. There are costs related to the legal, accounting, and underwriter fees and compliance with SEC regulations. Maintaining a listing on the stock exchange and reporting quarterly can be costly.
  2. Loss of control: The company will go public, meaning its founders and the management team will have little control. The shareholders determine the company’s future direction and can vote to influence decisions.
  3. Increased scrutiny and regulation: The company is a public corporation and will therefore be under greater scrutiny by investors, analysts, and regulators. Compliance with SEC regulations will be required, and financial disclosures must be made. This can prove costly and time-consuming.
  4. The short-term pressures: Publicly traded companies often have to achieve quarterly earnings targets. They also need to maintain stock price performance. This can lead them to make decisions and think in a way that is not in their long-term best interests.


A company looking to increase market visibility and raise capital can make an IPO a significant step. It has many advantages and disadvantages, so it is essential to consider them carefully. Before deciding, companies should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of going public. It is crucial to understand the company’s long-term goals and vision before deciding whether an IPO would be a good option.

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