SAN FRANCISCO — Slack, a office messaging firm, said Monday that it had confidentially filed paperwork for an preliminary public providing, becoming a member of the rising variety of expertise start-ups heading to the inventory market.
Slack, which relies in San Francisco, gave no particulars concerning the providing’s timing and stated it was awaiting a normal evaluation of its paperwork by the Securities and Trade Fee. The transfer was anticipated on condition that Slack’s chief government, Stewart Butterfield, had lengthy indicated that he deliberate to take the corporate public. Slack just lately hired Goldman Sachs to guide the providing.
Slack’s confidential submitting comes amid a rush by privately held companies to go public this 12 months. Many of those start-ups, which have been extremely valued by personal buyers, are a part of a era of expertise firms referred to as unicorns. Public share gross sales by the businesses are anticipated to create a bonanza of riches in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs and enterprise capital buyers.
In December, the ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft filed confidential paperwork for their very own public choices. Their efforts stalled briefly final month when a authorities shutdown hampered the S.E.C.’s potential to evaluation the businesses’ registration paperwork. Different tech firms anticipated to go public this 12 months embrace the net scrapbooking agency Pinterest.
Slack declined to remark past its assertion concerning the confidential submitting.
There’s prone to be a robust demand for Slack inventory. The corporate was valued at $7.1 billion by personal buyers final 12 months, however in current weeks funding companies have provided to purchase its shares at a value that values Slack at $13 billion, in accordance with an individual with data of the small print who was not licensed to talk publicly.
Slack additionally plans an uncommon type of public providing known as a direct itemizing, the particular person added. Not like most I.P.O.s, during which companies promote inventory to public market buyers upfront, direct listings let an organization start buying and selling its shares on an change with out elevating new funds. Spotify, a supplier of streaming music, went public in 2018 in a direct listing, paving the way in which for different high-profile start-ups to observe.
With a direct itemizing, shareholders may promote their inventory instantly after the general public providing, as a substitute of ready for what is named a lock-up interval to run out.
Slack has no use for money. It raised $427 million in new financing in August, a 12 months after elevating $250 million. The corporate has collected a complete of greater than $1 billion from buyers that embrace the SoftBank Imaginative and prescient Fund, Basic Atlantic, Dragoneer Funding Group and T. Rowe Worth Associates.
Mr. Butterfield started Slack out of a gaming start-up, Tiny Speck. Whereas the corporate’s sport merchandise didn’t take off, its inside communication device confirmed promise. In 2014, the corporate started promoting that communication device, known as Slack.
Begin-ups shortly adopted Slack, and bigger firms adopted swimsuit. The corporate provides free and paid variations of Slack and counts greater than 85,000 paying prospects, together with 65 Fortune 100 firms. Final month, Slack stated 10 million individuals now used its product day-after-day. The corporate generated greater than $350 million in income final 12 months, stated the particular person with data of the small print.
Some firms which have filed to go public have by no means reached that end line. Over the past 12 months, quite a lot of high-profile enterprise software program firms that took steps to go public have been snapped up by a tech large on the final minute. In November, for instance, Qualtrics, an analytics start-up, bought to SAP for $8 billion simply days earlier than it was set to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon have beforehand expressed curiosity in buying Slack, however the firm has demurred. Now a few of them have more and more begun to compete with the start-up. When Microsoft launched its personal office messaging firm, Microsoft Groups, in 2016, Slack took out a newspaper advert directed at its new competitor.
“We’re genuinely excited to have some competitors,” it learn.
In January, Microsoft introduced that 420,000 organizations used its Groups product, together with 89 of the Fortune 100.