Instacart’s willingness to go public this year is now slightly better understood after The Wall Street Journal reported that the grocery delivery giant isn’t planning on a mega-fundraise when it does list.
While the mechanics of a company’s public debut have only so much variation — direct listings and traditional IPOs both result in a newly public company, after all — Instacart’s plans provide us with useful hints about its recent financial history.
That Instacart is expected to go public this year at all is a minor miracle; the U.S. market for new technology listings has been moribund for quarters now. The slack IPO market is a marked shift from the active 2020-2021 period that saw a good number of startups and unicorns — private-market companies worth $1 billion or more — list when investors had bid the value of tech shares to new heights.
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Prices have since come down, at times sharply from pandemic-induced highs. Most tech upstarts are holding back on public listings in response, presumably concerned about matching final private-market valuations in an IPO or other form of flotation.