SAN FRANCISCO — Slack, a office messaging firm, mentioned Monday that it had confidentially filed paperwork for an preliminary public providing, becoming a member of the rising variety of know-how start-ups heading to the inventory market.
Slack, which relies in San Francisco, gave no particulars in regards to the providing’s timing and mentioned it was awaiting an ordinary assessment of its paperwork by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 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 employed Goldman Sachs to steer the providing.
Slack’s confidential submitting comes amid a rush by privately held firms to go public this 12 months. Many of those start-ups, which have been extremely valued by personal traders, are a part of a era of know-how 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 traders.
In December, the ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft filed confidential paperwork for their very own public choices. Their efforts stalled quickly final month when a authorities shutdown hampered the S.E.C.’s means to assessment the businesses’ registration paperwork. Other tech firms anticipated to go public this 12 months embody the web scrapbooking agency Pinterest.
Slack declined to remark past its assertion in regards to the confidential submitting.
There is more likely to be a robust demand for Slack inventory. The firm was valued at $7.1 billion by personal traders final 12 months, however in latest weeks funding corporations have provided to purchase its shares at a worth that values Slack at $13 billion, based on an individual with information of the main points 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. Unlike most I.P.O.s, wherein corporations promote inventory to public market traders 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 for other high-profile start-ups to follow.
With a direct listing, shareholders can also sell their stock immediately after the public offering, instead of waiting for what is known as a lockup period to expire.
Slack has little need for cash. It raised $427 million in new financing in August, a year after raising $250 million. The company has collected a total of more than $1 billion from investors that include the SoftBank Vision Fund, General Atlantic, Dragoneer Investment Group and T. Rowe Price Associates.
Mr. Butterfield began Slack out of a gaming start-up, Tiny Speck. While the company’s game products failed to take off, its internal communication tool showed promise. In 2014, the company began selling that communication tool, called Slack.
Start-ups quickly adopted Slack, and larger companies followed suit. The company offers free and paid versions of Slack and counts more than 85,000 paying customers, including 65 Fortune 100 companies. Last month, Slack said 10 million people now used its product every day. The company generated more than $350 million in revenue last year, said the person with knowledge of the details.
Some companies that have filed to go public have never reached that finish line. Over the last year, a number of high-profile business software companies that took steps to go public were snapped up by a tech giant at the last minute. In November, for example, Qualtrics, an analytics start-up, sold to SAP for $8 billion just days before it was set to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon have previously expressed interest in acquiring Slack, but the company has demurred. Now some of them have increasingly begun to compete with the start-up. When Microsoft introduced its own workplace messaging company, Microsoft Teams, in 2016, Slack took out a newspaper ad directed at its new competitor.
“We’re genuinely excited to have some competition,” it read.
In January, Microsoft announced that 420,000 organizations used its Teams product, including 89 of the Fortune 100.