Have hundreds of unicorns missed their exit window as Q1 IPOs grind to a halt?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

As investors struggle to price the stock market as economic and political news continues to break, the private market is entering a rough period. It seems increasingly likely that the period of disruption due to COVID-19 will persist for months, if not quarters. That means missed Q1 and Q2 revenue growth, bookings, and the like from startups domestically and around the world.

And that’s the bullish case. For some cohorts of startups, the outlook is even worse. Think about travel startups, ride-hailing upstarts, and any grouping of private companies that pursued a high-burn, high-growth model; that final category is about to run into the twin issues of the inflexibility of cost structure and the impact of slowing sales. That alone would make fundraising more difficult; toss in a deflating stock market and possible recession, and the mixture is a downright mess.

But we owe it to ourselves to survey what is going on in an attempt to answer our own questions about IPOs, exits, unicorn tallies, and who might be in trouble. Unlike when things were less bad, there will be no laughing this morning and no jokes. Just notes on what’s going wrong and what it might mean for private companies.