While Spotify has taken a bit of the wind out of the sails of highly anticipated initial public offerings this year with its decision to do a direct listing rather than an actual IPO, there are still of number of companies expected to go public -- or hoped so -- that could have 2018 build on the gains of last year.
But be careful what you wish for. Snap (NYSE:SNAP) was the biggest IPO last year, raising $3.4 billion, but its performance afterwards has been nothing short of disastrous. Similarly, meal kit delivery service Blue Apron (NYSE:APRN) saw its IPO stumble out of the gate, and it has since failed to deliver on its promise.
Below is a list of seven companies, listed alphabetically, that many are expecting to go public this year. Some, like Uber and Palantir Technologies, have been on prior-year lists, so whether they actually go through with it this time is anyone's guess.
Home rental service AirBnB also made the list last year, but it's also been the subject of rumors about filing for an IPO since 2014. Although CEO Brian Chesky told Fortune "we'll be ready," that might not mean this year, as he also says the company wants to be as responsible as possible when it files, and he plans on taking it slow. Airbnb had over 3 million guests use its service last year, a 50% increase from 2016, and it has a potential valuation of $31 billion.
Family history site Ancestry.com was supposed to go public last year, having filed paperwork to do so back in June, but later in the year, the company founder and CEO left his executive position and moved up to chairman, which delayed the offering. It wouldn't be the first time: Ancestry was a publicly traded company, having had an IPO in 2009 before being taken private again three years later in a $1.6 billion deal. But there is more competition now than then, and rival 23andMe is also one that may hit up the public markets this year.
Digital media site BuzzFeed is arguably best known for its clickbait articles and viral videos, but it's still considered a highly valued property that was said by Axios last to be ready for primetime in 2018. However, The Wall Street Journal reported in November that the digital media site would miss its full-year revenue targets, which might make for a rocky launch. With a potential value in excess of $1 billion, the unicorn might lose its horn if it tries to go public on a downswing.
Photo- and file-sharing service Dropbox is high on the list of companies expected to go public this year and, like others, in years past, too. But 2018 looks to be the year it's actually happening as numerous reports say Dropbox filed its IPO paperwork confidentially with the SEC. While it has a reported valuation of around $10 billion, that was a result of its last round of financing four years ago, and some analysts doubt it will actually able to garner that kind money in the public markets. But with 500 million users, 200,000 business customers -- including virtually all of the Fortune 500 companies -- and $1 billion in annual revenues, Dropbox could be the big IPO of the year.
Ride-sharing service Lyft may just beat rival Uber to the public markets, which last year said it would go public within 18 to 36 months. In October, Lyft raised $1 billion from Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) venture capital arm, CapitalG. Although its arch-nemesis has raised more money and is available in more cities, it comes without the baggage Uber brings with it from its allegations of harassment and workplace culture controversies. With backing also from General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F), it could become a market darling.
Another of the perennial candidates to go public, secretive Palantir Technologies is a data analytics firm that counts the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other government agencies as customers, which have bestowed upon it some $215 million worth of contracts. The Wall Street Journal reports it was behind catching wanted guys as disparate as Bernie Madoff and Osama bin Laden. It has received equity fund of nearly $2 billion and has a valuation of $20 billion, and two years ago, CEO Alex Karp told the WSJ, "we are now positioned so we can go public."
Although it's likely to go public at some point, Uber's chances of doing so this year seem dim, especially in light of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's comments that it may be three years before it happens. Still, never say never, and despite the crises that seemed to erupt around its name so often last year, with new management in place who are focused not only on correcting past problems but driving the company forward, Uber remains a valuable commodity.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares), and Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.