IPOs are generally regarded as the idealized jackpot when it comes to venture-backed exits. That’s because going public, as opposed to being acquired, tends to offer superior growth opportunities and a shot at becoming a market leader as a standalone company rather than a component of another. However, there are other instances when an offer from a strategic partner is just too sweet to pass up, or when it’s not possible or likely to take a company to the next level without joining forces with an incumbent.
Still, there’s no denying the allure of an IPO and the example successful public companies set for today’s startups. What attributes are common among these companies and what trends become visible over time? We can use data from the S-1s of 45+ public SaaS companies to observe several things, such as number of founders to market cap, trends in founders’ equity over time, and revenue growth to years it took to go public.