Tallahassee Journal

Investors Bought Into Nearly $250 Billion in Global I.P.O.s in 2014

Investors Bought Into Nearly $250 Billion in Global I.P.O.s in 2014

After months of hype and breathless anticipation, the Alibaba Group — China’s answer to eBay and Amazon — raised $25 billion in its market debut in September, setting a record for initial public offerings. Not three months later, the car-ride start-up Uber raised an eye-popping $1.8 billion, one of the biggest fund-raising rounds in venture capital history.Gopro-corporate-display-

In other words, it was a very good year for the business of raising money — in either the public or the private markets. Still, investors and advisers are beginning to question whether that performance can be repeated this year. Last year proved to be one of the busiest since 2010 for companies seeking to list on the stock markets. Some 1,205 issuers raised nearly $249 billion globally, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Even stripping out Alibaba’s blockbuster offering — an event bankers and investors agreed was a once-in-a-generation type of deal — made last year a banner one for I.P.O.s.

The quest for growth has prompted some analysts to question whether investors and start-ups are becoming a little too starry-eyed for their own good, potentially overinflating the markets. Comparisons have been made — though so far largely dismissed in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street — to the dot-com boom and bust of 1999-2000. Lending Club’s successful I.P.O., for instance, valued the online lender at more than 35 times its estimated revenue for 2017, more comparable to the likes of Internet darlings like Facebook than financial firms like Visa.

Still, venture capitalists and stock underwriters have shown an eagerness not to miss out on the next potential game-changer. The previous year, 2013, was already considered one of the most productive for I.P.O.s since the financial crisis, with companies as varied as Twitter, Hilton Worldwide and the animal health company Zoetis gaining stock listings.