In blow to unicorns, the global IPO market continues to soften

What do you call a unicorn that can’t exit?

The IPO market is flatlining at an awkward moment. While private markets remain heavily risk-on, a key avenue for startup exits – and investor liquidity – is seemingly shut.

Our first indication that this was the case was the Justworks IPO delay in the United States, which pulled the plug on its debut close to when it was set to price and float. For the HR-focused software company, softer-than-anticipated market conditions meant that its IPO had to go back in the box.

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But a single IPO delay, even one with somewhat explicit notes about what caused its pause, is not a trend. Therefore, TechCrunch has been waiting for more data to drop before declaring, emphatically, that the global technology IPO market is currently on lunch break. That came today.

News broke this morning that WeTransfer’s parent company, WeRock, is putting its IPO on hold. The Dutch company was set to list on the Euronext Amsterdam, bringing liquidity to its founding team, employees and external backer Highland Europe. And to cap off the retinue of bad news, a fascinating SPAC deal involving space and flying objects hit turbulence once it reached Max Q and began to trade this week. 

For the ever-rising number of unicorns around the world, it’s a critical question. Rising antitrust sentiment in governing bodies means that the M&A market is soft. What’s next for IPOs?

WeRock becomes WeWait

WeRock’s main property, WeTransfer, is a SaaS startup with various subscription tools. In its official prospectus, the company self-describes as an “ecosystem of creative productivity tools” that it monetizes on both a subscription basis and via advertisements.