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Why Uber, WeWork, Slack, and 197 Other Companies Are All Rushing to Join the $70 Billion IPO Boom of 2019

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02.07.2019

One sound bite still lingers from the days before the Great Dot-Com Crash of 2000, courtesy of an investment banker who insisted he wasn't concerned about the tsunami of funding sloshing around the IPO market. "It's Wall Street's job to throw money at companies," he said. And investors' job to sort the winners from the losers.

Throw money Wall Street did--to any entity ending in .com run by any group of idiots. How much? There were 486 IPOs in 1999, which collected $92.2 billion, and another 406 in 2000, for another $96.7 billion. Inflation-adjusted, that's $283 billion worth of equity raised. And then razed, in large measure: The Nasdaq, where much of that dot-com money lived, lost 78 percent of its value peak to trough.

Consider some IPOs from one week in May 1999: FashionMall.com, @Plan, CAIS Internet, David's Bridal, Interliant, Redback Networks, SBA Communications, Tenfold. And eToys.com, whose shares crested around $85 in late 1999; it was put down within two years, as was CAIS. But SBA, a cellphone infrastructure outfit, is worth about $23 billion today, and router tech purveyor Redback was sold for nearly $2 billion in 2006.

We won't see such numbers this year--about $70 billion is more likely--but Wall Street is in money-chucking mode again. "The window is open. The market tanked in 2018, and now people want to exit and they can," says Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital, which runs........

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