A former Slack board observer says there was 'no hesitation' about its unusual public offering, and she thinks Slack's successful direct listing will encourage more startups to do it (WORK)

Sarah Cannon

When Index Ventures signed on to Slack’s
$160 million Series E funding round in 2015
, the popular
workplace chat app was already one of the hottest startups in
Silicon Valley.

But on Thursday it also became one of the hottest startups in a
new category: a
directly listed public company
.

Online music company
Spotify made waves when it decided to go public via direct
listing
in February 2018, but Slack’s board of investors
already knew it would pursue a similar path when the time came for
the fast-growing company to make its own debut.

“There was no hesitation that this was the right path for
Slack,” former Slack board observer and partner at Index Ventures
Sarah Cannon told Business Insider on Thursday. “There was only one
precedent, which was Spotify, so it was really brave of [Slack CEO]
Stewart [Butterfield] to pursue it. There were a lot of risks
because it hadn’t really been done before.”

Read More:
The amazing life of Stewart Butterfield, the CEO leading Slack to a
potential $15.7 billion valuation when it goes public today

A direct listing
bypasses the traditional process
that accompanies a public
offering, and allows the shareholders in a startup to sell directly
to the public on an exchange. 

“A direct listing is more transparent to the public more so than
the traditional route with investment banks and underwriters
because a much broader set of people have access,” Cannon said. “It
democratizes the process.”

Shares of Slack began trading Thursday at a price that was more
than 50% higher than the $26 per share “reference price” that had
been expected. The stock finished its first day of trading at
$38.62. Cannon described the team’s energy on the trading floor
Thursday as “pure enthusiasm,” and credits the leadership team’s
commitment to values as integral in the decision to pursue the
direct listing.

“It’s a philosophical choice, and the two driving factors were
that Slack is an innovative and transparent company,” Cannon said.
“It’s not surprising to me as a board member that this is the route
they choose, because it is core to the product to be transparent
and those were the guiding philosophies behind that decision.”

Part of
Slack’s successful debut
, according to Cannon, is that the
brand was recognizable enough for the general public to want to
purchase stock. It was also helpful that the company didn’t need to
raise money as would be the case in an IPO, she said.

“I imagine you will see more direct listings in the future,
because as you have more of a sample set of these listings, more
will consider it an option,” Cannon said. “It’s not right for
everyone though because you need cash on your balance sheet and not
have to need to raise money. You also need brand awareness so
consumers are aware of the company and want to actually buy
shares.”

Although Cannon is no longer on Slack’s board of directors, she
insisted growth was still a priority for the company as it
endeavors to become profitable and satisfy its public
shareholders.

“When we invested four years ago, we invested because they were
creating a category that didn’t exist,” Cannon said. “How we work
is fundamentally changing. Growth is a priority for the company and
as investors we are quite excited about the unit economics.”

SEE ALSO: Inside
Slack’s direct listing: Here’s what actually went down between the
tech company and its Wall Street advisers


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Source: FS – All – Economy – News
A former Slack board observer says there was 'no hesitation' about its unusual public offering, and she thinks Slack's successful direct listing will encourage more startups to do it (WORK)