IPO trend: Investor lockup periods get shorter — here's how it will impact investors - The Average Joe

    IPO trend: Investor lockup periods get shorter — here’s how it will impact investors

    Victor Lei — Head of Research

    January 6, 2022

    ipo lockup period

    January 6, 2022

    Investors beware, IPO lockup periods are getting shorter (data via Renaissance Capital research) — which could lead to greater volatility investing in companies that recently went public.

    What’s the big deal? Early investors and insiders (i.e. employees) often have lockup periods of 90-180 days before they can sell their shares after an IPO.

    • Upon these lockup periods ending — insiders often dump their shares on unsuspecting investors.
    • According to TC, Uber’s share price dropped 43% in 2019 after their lockup period.

    Too much power: In a hot market with large IPO demand, companies have greater flexibility to set favorable terms — and it’s been a raging IPO market for the past two years.

    In 2021, 25% of IPOs allowed for early lockup releases — 5x more than the previous year — with some based on stock prices reaching a specific level.

    • Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOOD) investors were allowed to sell 15% of holdings upon IPO — with another 15% three months later.
    • Airbnb, DoorDash, Snowflake, Allbirds and The Honest Company were among those with early lockup expiry.

    Investors: This makes investing in IPO companies even more volatile. In some cases, simply Googling “X company lockup period” will do — while others are more complicated — requiring investors to dig through complex legal papers.

    And crypto investors have it even harder. Upon the token generation event (TGE) — the crypto equivalent of an IPO — the process differs slightly:

    • Different types of insiders (i.e. investors, employees, advisors) have different lock-up periods.
    • Most are based on a linear vesting schedule — i.e. equal amounts of tokens are unlocked over a period of time.

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