Companies like @SnowflakeDB @asana @Airbnb are making headlines as some of the most anticipated IPOs of 2020. It feels like yesterday we were preparing to take @okta public.

What it’s actually like to go through an IPO & be a public company ⬇️
Concerns pre-IPO:
- Being public would make it harder to invest in the long term.
- We’d be constrained, no longer agile & aggressive.
- Employees would watch the stock price & lose focus.
- Less intensity after “reaching the goal” (which is why you have to move the goalpost).
Benefits of being public:
- Helped us tell our story (biz press interested in @okta in a way they never were before).
- Gave us stability & “validity” (which customers appreciated).
- Gave us access to capital markets (raised $2B in 2 quick fundraises).
Other takeaways from going public:
- It’s not the fastest path to liquidity. After the IPO, there's a 6-month lockup, then your stock sales are public/scrutinized by investors. M&A = quicker, but wasn't for us.
- Limits what we could share internally. Transparency gets harder.
Can't forget the roadshow. In venture rounds, you might meet with 2 or 3 $1B funds. Pre-IPO, it was 8 meetings a day with $5-20B funds. Keep the coffee flowing, but stay hydrated. I kept my early AM workout routine for some normalcy.
Got the crash course in IR: it's all about being consistent with your message & setting reasonable expectations, then exceeding them. This is the foundation of a stable predictable business.

(Our key to success: recurring subscription review & happy customers.)
How I benefited from @okta going public:
- My control of the company increased significantly.
- Preferred shares rights & preferences go away as everyone converts to common.
- My shares along with VC converted to super-voting shares. As VCs sold their shares, my voting % went up.
How my job has changed:
- More time in board meetings (committees, recruiting, communicating with, etc).
- More time on IR & with investors (earnings reports, conferences, 1on1s - might sound repetitive, but you often learn interesting & unexpected things).
For years, we'd compensated employees with stock options & we HAD to give them liquidity. It was fun to celebrate with the team on the big day.

There was one thing I wasn’t worried about that DID happen: some great employees made so much money that they retired. Good for them!
One of @fkerrest’s mantras was “it’s not about going public, it’s about being public.” So good luck with your first earnings call, @ Frank Slootman @moskov @bchesky!

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More from @toddmckinnon

25 Aug
Key elements of a high-performance engineering organization:
“These are my new shoes. They're good shoes. They won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me, they definitely won't make you handsome like me. They'll only make you have shoes like me. That's it.” Charles Barkley on the importance of talent.
Managing People:
Have a dual career track. Value management == technical track. Don’t just say it. Pay equal, equal impact, power etc. Hire and develop GREAT managers
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1) I was really happy how my #Oktane19 keynote turned out. I think it was the best we’ve done. Several have asked what I did to prep.
2)past years the Comms team has done more upfront and brought it to me in a more “complete state”. This year I was involved earlier. This helped my eventual delivery as it was more “my voice” and I knew it better.
3)also helped our product and engineering teams have had a kick-ass year with innovation. Lots to announce!
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