Spotify's Direct-Listing IPO
In early April 2018, Spotify Technology SA (Spotify) had planned a rare direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Unlike typical initial public offerings (IPOs), which used investment banks as underwriters to help set an IPO price, Spotify's direct listing would allow market participants to determine the initial price. In a typical IPO, investment banks shopped the potential offer to various clients and, in the process of book building, determined a range for the offer when it started trading. They also often provided support for the issue on the day it started to trade, limiting the downside for shareholders if demand was low. In Spotify's case, the investment banks were only being paid a nominal fee, and Spotify was not raising capital in the offering. The stock simply started trading on the prescribed day. A portfolio manager with a hedge fund that focused on growing technology companies was considering investing in the firm, but faced a challenge: how could she estimate Spotify's value when it started to trade?