There was a rare development Friday on the local high-tech scene: A hot company filed paperwork to go public.
The move by Boston-based Klaviyo, the state’s most valuable tech startup, came the same week as two even bigger tech companies — UK chip company Arm, and Instacart, the San Francisco grocery delivery service — also filed for initial public offerings.
The burst of activity is kindling hope that the moribund IPO market might be poised for a revival.
Klaviyo, which sells marketing and data analysis software to retailers and e-commerce sites, didn’t disclose the size or timing of its IPO in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But Reuters has reported that the company, founded by Andrew Bialecki and Ed Hallen in 2012, was aiming to raise $750 million. That would be the biggest local IPO since Toast, the restaurant software provider, raised $1 billion two years ago.
Klaviyo’s filing, which will be updated as the IPO approaches, showed that the company is growing rapidly and, after years of losses, making money. Revenue climbed 54 percent to $320.7 million in the first six months of the year. It booked a profit of $15.2 million, compared with a loss of $24.6 million a year earlier.
Depending on pricing of shares in the IPO, the company’s market capitalization could range from $8 billion to $10 billion, according to IPO tracking firm Renaissance Capital. Klaviyo had a private market valuation of $9.5 billion in 2021.
Arm is returning as a public company after being owned for seven years by SoftBank, the Japanese tech holding company and investor. It’s expected to raise $5 billion to $6 billion. That would give the company a public market valuation of $50 billion to $60 billion, Renaissance Capital says.
Arm would be the biggest IPO in US markets since electric truck maker Rivian brought in nearly $14 billion in 2021.
Instacart is expected to raise $1 billion. That would translate to a market cap of as much as $18 billion, Renaissance Capital estimates, down from its peak private market valuation of $39 billion in early 2021.
Companies whose sales took off as a result of the pandemic led an IPO boom in 2020 and 2021. As the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero, investors were willing to bet on unproven companies in anticipation of big returns.
But since the Fed began raising rates in 2022 to combat rising inflation, deals of $100 million or more have shriveled to just a handful. Higher borrowing costs suck money out of the IPO market, as investors shy away from risky startups in favor of less sexy but more stable companies.
The Boston tech and biotech industries were hit hard when the IPO window slammed shut.
Now it seems to be opening again.
On Friday, a small Watertown biotech backed by venture capital, Neumora Therapeutics, filed for an IPO without saying how many shares it plans to sell or at what price. According to STAT, attorneys and life science investors have begun encouraging startups to “dust off their paperwork” after the long IPO drought.
Other local companies that are considered to be potential IPO candidates include ezCater, the online business meals service; cryptocurrency startup Circle Internet Financial; and a host of biotech companies.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that investors are clamoring for IPOs. The stock market is climbing, inflation has subsided, and investors’ appetite for risk has returned. But many big private companies are holding off from going public.
“It’s supply crimping the IPO market, not demand,” Daniel Burton-Morgan of Bank of America told the Journal. The logjam could break if deals like Klaviyo go well.
An IPO resurgence would be most welcome in Boston, where a long list of tech and biotech firms have laid off workers to conserve cash. And last week’s trio of filings is a good omen.
But uncertainty abounds — about the path of inflation, the level of interest rates, and the pace of economic growth.
“We are navigating by the stars under cloudy skies,” said Fed chairperson Jerome Powell last week, referring to the central bank’s effort to return inflation to its 2 percent target without causing a painful recession.
It may be a while before the sun shines again on startup companies seeking to go public.