Private-to-public IPOs threaten venture capitalism

The General Motors Company world headquarters building is shown in Detroit, Mich.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Well, GM is not the only IPO this week. A bunch of big companies backed by private equity firms are also launching stock offerings.

But as Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports from our Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, the IPOs we're getting may not be the kind of IPOs the economy needs.


Mitchell Hartman: The new IPOs include consulting giant Booz Allen and Harrah's casinos -- big companies taken private by buyout firms, now going public to make money for their investors.

Management consultant Peter Cohan says these IPOs aren't likely to create growth or jobs.

Peter Cohan: It's really not very good news for entrepreneurship and innovation. A private equity-backed firm that's been around for decades is now going to enrich a bunch of guys who figured out a way of restructuring the balance sheet.

What would be better for the economy? IPOs from promising startups in fields like clean energy and biotech, says Mark Heesen of the National Venture Capital Association.

Mark Heesen: The vast majority of jobs are created after a company goes public.

There were just 18 venture-backed IPOs in the last two years, says Heesen -- not nearly enough.

Heesen: The venture capital community lives on the idea that a couple of their companies are going to be wildly successful -- the eBays of the world.

This year, venture-backed IPOs will top 60 -- half of what's considered healthy.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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