Asana Shares Rise Modestly After Direct Listing in Successful Pop IPO Challenge
Dustin Moskovitz’s software business Asana is now trading, its shares up around 30% in a direct listing that could elicit criticism from the traditional “IPO pop”.
Shares of team collaboration tools maker Asana began trading around 12:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, priced at $27 per share, up from the New York Stock Exchange benchmark price of $21. . Those shares were trading at around $28, or 33% above that benchmark price, as of 2:30 p.m. ET.
At this price, Asana now boasts a market capitalization of over $4 billion, more than double its last private valuation of $1.5 billion set in November 2018. At this size, however, Asana is eclipsed by another tech company to go public via direct listing the same day, Palantir, which opened trading an hour after Asana with an implied market capitalization of over $21 billion.
Founded by Moskovitz and fellow ex-Facebooker Justin Rosenstein in 2008, Asana has taken a deliberately unusual path to a public company, deliberately expanding and hiring while investing in culture and a freemium software tool that entrepreneurs have touted as balm for the soul plagued by labor notifications. “We were just a little shocked and frustrated at how much of our collective time was spent trying to establish clarity and get everyone on the same page,” Moskovitz said. Forbes for a month of august cover story.
Given Moskovitz’s approach to building Asana – “fast, but fast in the long term, not fast in the short term”, as he described it to Forbes — it’s no surprise that Moskovitz, who was once the world’s youngest self-made billionaire for his role in co-founding Facebook, is keen to pursue an increasingly buzzy, yet still unusual, alternative to IPOs in a direct quote. In such a case, companies do not raise funds by issuing new shares, but convert their private shares into exchange-traded shares. While banks still advise listed companies on benchmark prices, they do not guarantee the event and attract buyer interest, for a price, as in a traditional IPO. With a lack of the same fanfare, fundraising potential, and much of the track record to highlight, only several top tech companies had pursued direct signups before Asana and Palantir, including Slack and Spotify.
This is in stark contrast to the biggest software IPO ever, Snowflake, which went public two weeks ago and saw shares climb up to 115% in day one trading. During this IPO, Snowflake raised over $3.3 billion in new funds. But his first-day pop led to a debate over whether the company had unnecessarily left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table – a criticism of its CEO Frank Slootman called “nonsense chatter”.
Asana’s own first-day bump is on par with other recent non-Snowflake IPOs such as JFrog (up 47% on its first day of trading), Unity (up 32%), and Sumo Logic (up 22%). But a key distinction on its first day of trading – up 33% from its benchmark price and around 4% from its opening price – is that it has not issued shares. at the original value, lower than the reference price.
With revenue of $142.6 million in fiscal 2020, Asana remains small compared to some tech giants. But after ringing the NYSE’s opening bell and getting its stock listed with a modest increase in value, it looks like Asana and Moskovitz got what they wanted from the direct listing route.
As Moskovitz said Forbes August: “We will reap the fruits we have sown.