(Bloomberg) — General Atlantic is riding the wave of initial public offerings this year as a record number of companies across its portfolio made their market debuts, with more still to come.
The growth equity firm, known for backing big-tech names including Airbnb Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., saw 12 firms in its portfolio complete IPOs so far in 2021. That’s already double General Atlantic’s prior annual record of six, which it reached multiple times previously including in 2019 and 2020, according to Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford.
The majority of the listings have been in the U.S., said Ford, who earlier called the boom a “renaissance in the IPO market.” Adding to that, Squarespace Inc., the website-hosting service backed by investors including General Atlantic, went public through a direct listing in May.
General Atlantic’s IPO tally has soared just in the past two weeks, with Chinese e-commerce grocer DingDong Cayman Ltd., U.S. biometric security company Clear Secure Inc., India’s Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Ltd. and cancer drug developer Hutchmed China Ltd. all pricing since late June. Looking ahead, restaurant chain Torchy’s Tacos is said to be planning a public listing as soon as this year, and personal-care franchise European Wax Center is also exploring an IPO, Bloomberg has reported. Both are backed by General Atlantic.
“It’s clearly the best IPO market we’ve seen since the late ’90s in terms of volume of activity, the quality of the companies going and the excitement among investors,” Ford, who is also chairman of New York-based General Atlantic, said in an interview. “The asset class is working.”
The numbers bear that out, with corporate executives raising an all-time high of almost $350 billion through IPOs in the first half of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That tops the prior peak of $282 billion reached in the second half of 2020. Companies from Swedish oat-milk producer Oatly Group AB to bootmaker Dr. Martens Plc have gone public in 2021, with Robinhood Markets not far behind after filing for one of the year’s most high-profile IPOs last week.
Anton Levy, global head of technology investing at General Atlantic, said he expects another three to six months of robust IPO activity. Investors are on alert for potential volatility when the Federal Reserve scales back its asset purchases, which could come toward the end of this year or in early 2022.
General Atlantic leaders have thought about raising a special purpose acquisition company, but found it hasn’t yet “made sense,” Levy said. Still, the firm remains open to the possibility of a SPAC at some point, he said.
Meanwhile, Levy said the prospect of governments around the world cracking down on technology giants could benefit fast-growing startups.
“Whether it’s the U.S. or China, where there’s increasing regulatory scrutiny, that’s actually often good for the startup company,” he said. “Because the competitor is often a large tech player.”
General Atlantic, founded in 1980, manages more than $53 billion and has 145 portfolio companies.
Here’s a look at General Atlantic-backed firms that have gone public so far this year:
*Went public through a direct listing
Note: Returns as of July 2
(Updates with chart of IPOs.)
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