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Slack says it has filed to go public, but not through an IPO

OCTOBER 15, 2015 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Left to right Laura Haberberger, Ceci Stallsmith and Caroline McC
Employees work at Slack’s San Francisco offices in 2015.
(David Butow / For The Times)
Bloomberg

Slack Technologies Inc. said it has filed confidentially with regulators to list the company’s shares in the United States.

The messaging platform company didn’t provide details of its plans in a statement Monday.

Slack plans to forgo a traditional initial public offering and instead intends to sell its shares to bidders in a direct listing, a person familiar with the matter said last month. That would allow investors to sell shares without a lock-up period, among other advantages.

The San Francisco company is choosing the unusual method for going public because it doesn’t need the cash or publicity of an IPO, the person said at the time. The share sale, which might take place toward midyear, could value Slack at more than $7 billion, according to the person, who added that the company’s plans could still change.

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The company was valued at $7.1 billion in a $427-million funding round in August.

Slack is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co. on the share sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the matter wasn’t public. Representatives for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Allen & Co. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Slack goes ahead with a direct listing, it will follow music streaming service Spotify Technology, which began trading in New York using that method in April.

In an IPO, underwriters hammer out the number of shares to sell and at what price, then take their fees out of the proceeds from an offering. A direct listing allows current investors to offer their stakes directly to new shareholders priced purely on demand.

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Slack said in January that 10 million people use its service every day. It said last year that 3 million of those people use a paid premium version of the software.

Slack faces competition from Microsoft Corp.’s Teams product, which is free, but it has prevailed over other rivals. Last year, Atlassian Corp. said it was shutting down HipChat, a similar workplace messaging product, and encouraging its customers to migrate to Slack. Atlassian sold HipChat’s assets to Slack.


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