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Unity Software's IPO Just Took a Bizarre Twist

By Danny Vena – Sep 15, 2020 at 7:00AM

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The company's CEO is wresting control of the process from the bankers.

The upcoming week is a hectic one for initial public offerings (IPO), with headliners Snowflake and JFrog preparing for their public debuts. An IPO is normally something of a straightforward affair, at least in terms of the process. Unity Software wants to break the mold.

A company will typically hire financial advisors and investment bankers to handle the details of the stock offering, while senior executives of the company put on the roadshow, a series of presentations designed to showcase the company, its financial position, and the market opportunity it's chasing. At least that's how it's supposed to work.

A man in a suit pulling a pile of $100 of the table.

Image source: Getty Images.

There's been an interesting twist to Unity Software's IPO, as CEO John Riccitiello is thumbing his nose at convention. After hiring investment bankers to head up to the process, Riccitiello has decided that the company's upper management will determine the stock's price on its debut using an online bidding system. 

Unity is hoping to gauge interest by asking institutional investors what price they're willing to pay and how many shares they wish to purchase. Once the bids have all been tabulated, management will determine a price and allocate the available shares among institutional investors who bid above the final price. 

The company is hoping to avoid leaving a significant amount of money on the table, which has happened in several recent IPOs. As an example, e-commerce platform BigCommerce (BIGC -0.99%) priced its offering at $24, an increase from its initial range of $18 to $20. The stock surged more than 200% on its first day of trading to close above $72.

According to an S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Unity originally planned to offer its stock in a range of $34 to $42, but given its recent actions, the final offering price for its stock could be very different. 

Danny Vena has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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