From Private To Public: How To Read An S-1


IPO stories abound in the financial press. However, coverage may be cursory or lack information about the company you’d like to know.

Maybe coverage of a hot IPO contains excellent information on how much money the CEO stands to make when her company debuts, but zero details on its customer cohorts. Or maybe you want to learn more about a company’s quarterly performance, but the piece you find covers the numbers without context.

If you could do your own research, you’d be in business. You wouldn’t be dependent on the media (hello!) to tell you what matters and what doesn’t. In order to get started, let’s define what an S-1 will tell you about a company aiming to go public.

Meet The S-1 Filing

A Form S-1, commonly referred to as an S-1, is a form that private companies file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when they intend to go public.

The form includes a wealth of information about the company:

  • How much a company intends to raise in its offering.
  • A summary of its business.
  • Notes concerning its competitors.
  • How the firm intends to spend the money it raises.
  • And the most critical parts of an S-1: its financial performance.

What you need to know is that when a company is going public, it files an S-1 with oodles of details on its business. The filing provides information that the company uses to sell shares in its IPO, and provides much of the information that regular folks will use to decide whether to buy shares in the company.

The better-known the filing company is, the bigger splash its S-1 can make. You can imagine, for example, how big of a deal it was when Google and Facebook originally filed, and how big of deal it will be when Uber eventually releases its own S-1 as well. And unlike a lot of government documents, these filings are fairly accessible to the general public.

Read the full, original article here.