Today the rumour mills heated up around a possible Unity IPO coming in early 2020. An IPO, or Initial Public Offering, is the process by which a private company like Unity Technologies becomes a publically traded company, with stocks traded on a stock exchange. From the site Cheddar:
Video game development platform Unity Technologies is gearing up to go public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, which was valued at a little more than $3 billion as of its last funding round in June 2018, is aiming to do its initial public offering during the first half of 2020 ー provided that market conditions are favorable, a source told Cheddar. CEO John Riccitiello told Cheddar in April of 2018 that the company was earning about $300 million in annual revenue.
A Unity spokesperson said it doesn’t comment on IPO rumors or speculation.
In the end, this is just speculation of something that has already been all but confirmed. From the same website back in April, 2018:
The company may also go public. “That’s the general path,” said Riccitiello. “We’re not putting out dates but I do believe the company is strong enough financially to go public now.”
He said the company has around $300 million in revenue and is seeing “very aggressive growth.”
Even further back in VentureBeat:
GamesBeat: For the investors, is there a timetable now? Are they now the majority of the ownership?
Riccitiello: No, they’re not a majority yet. The majority of the company is still owned by the founders and the employees. I’ve told them that we’re not doing an IPO before 2019, and I don’t know if we’re going to do one in 2019. There are lots of reasons to continue to grow our business the way we’re doing it. What every investor says now, and it’s sort of a knee-jerk thing, is that they’re patient. Sequoia’s been in this for eight years. They all say that, I think, because they don’t want to not get chosen because they’re in a hurry to generate liquidity on an investment they haven’t even made yet. But that’s what they’ve all said. They’re in it for the long term.
At some point, Unity is Switzerland, right? We serve all platforms. We’re better as an independent company. The long-term outcome is likely an IPO. But for now we have adequate capital. We don’t need to do an IPO any time soon. We’ll pick the right time for it.
So, this rumour isn’t exactly new, nor shocking. In fact it’s the natural end state for companies that take venture funding, as Unity have multiple times. Investors either lose their investment, sell to another investor early on, or get a return on their investment in the form of either the sale of a company to a larger company or through a public stock offering via an IPO. At the end of the day, Unity going public should have almost no major impact on Unity developers. Now Unity being acquired by a large company… that’s a much different story!