Why i3 Verticals Chose Workiva for Their IPO Process

i3 verticals ipo image


The payment processing and software firm i3 Verticals wanted an efficient way to prepare their initial public offering documents, as well as their post-IPO quarterly and annual financial reports for the SEC.


After hearing head-to-head pitches from Workiva and a traditional printer, i3 Verticals chose the Workiva cloud solution for IPO and S-1 filing.


  • Met a tight deadline to file the final prospectus in the hours before going public
  • Automatically updated 329 numbers affected by the final offering price within minutes
  • Celebrated the IPO instead of worrying about the numbers the night before trading began

Chief Financial Officer Clay Whitson was no stranger to taking companies public when he joined the payment processing and software company i3 Verticals.

Though he had prepared regulatory documents using a financial printer for initial public offerings at other firms, an article in The Wall Street Journal featuring Workiva prompted Clay to consider a new way. He shared the article with Controller Geoff Smith and Senior Vice President of Finance Scott Meriwether, who were already open to other options.

Geoff was familiar with Workiva during his time as an auditor, working with clients who were using the connected reporting platform. Scott was open to considering a collaborative, cloud solution if it could outperform traditional IPO processes.

“The old model is a relic, and if there was a better process that was proven in the market, I was open to switching.” 

Scott Meriweather, SVP of Finance

Geoff remembers early in his career when he was forced to print financial documents, mark changes by hand, and send copies to editors, only to find inadvertent mistakes when he got them back.

“The back-and-forth was absolutely painful,” Geoff said. “Even if you just had a minor punctuation change, it was a game of telephone to get that done, as opposed to being able to just do it yourself live in the document.”

That painful experience was top of mind when they began seeking a more efficient way to execute i3’s S-1 filing, as well as 10-Qs and 10-Ks going forward.

Going head to head

The i3 team invited Workiva and a traditional printer to pitch why they should be the one to handle the firm’s IPO.

Workiva ultimately won for a number of reasons:

  • The linking function, which enables teams to edit information at the source and automatically update it across all connected instances
  • Efficiencies and control gained from being able to make changes in-house, instead of relying on an outside party
  • Cost-effectiveness over the traditional printer, especially when including all services offered

Scott said the biggest hurdle may have been persuading outside counsel, who was unfamiliar with Workiva. However, the law firm quickly came on board after Workiva eased their concerns with training and responsive customer support.

The road to going public

The true test came during the IPO process.

The i3 team knew they would learn the final offering price late in the day before the first day of trading. They guessed they would have five or six hours to not only complete the final prospectus but also have counsel, underwriters’ counsel, and auditors review the documents. The company’s 424 filing was particularly complicated because the amount of equity different parties were slated to receive would change based on the final offering price, and that information had to be accurately represented in the included pro forma financial statements.

The team planned ahead by building their documents in the Workiva connected reporting platform. Hours before going public, i3 was able to update the final offering price in one spreadsheet cell and watch it automatically update 329 other numbers in the SEC filing that were dependent on that price, Geoff said.

Instead of spending hours to make the change manually, the updates happened in minutes.

“I don’t think you can do it without using a product like the Workiva platform,” Scott said. “We went public with an Up-C corporate structure, and I don’t know how you would do it in a traditional model and meet your deadline.”

In advance of the night of pricing, Geoff and Scott performed test runs with different share prices.

“The night of pricing, I think he and I were prepared for no sleep, running to the finish line together and hoping we make it,” Scott said. “At 6:00 p.m., 30 minutes after we priced, we were sitting in the conference room drinking a beer because we were done, and the document was over to the auditors, underwriters, and counsel for review. We were looking at each other and didn’t really know what to do because it wasn’t supposed to be this easy.”

Geoff said it would not have been possible to update the final document so quickly without using Workiva and having control over their own document in the final hours.

“You’ve got big fans of Workiva at i3,” Scott said.

Why the company chose Workiva:

  • Control over their documents
  • Ability to link and update numbers across hundreds of spreadsheet cells automatically instead of by hand
  • One-on-one training provided by Workiva to introduce outside counsel to the platform
  • Flexibility to integrate with their financial management platform

See what Workiva can do for you. Go to workiva.com/request-demo

Download case study here >>

Renaissance Capital: 2018 IPO Law Firm Leaderboard

From RenaissanceCapital.com:

In 2018, 188 IPOs raised $45.7 billion, 18% more deals than 2017. With every IPO requiring at least two legal firms, one for issuers and one for underwriters (and some hiring as many as five), there were 587 legal engagements with 140 law firms. Latham & Watkins and Cooley retained their #1 and #2 spots; the California-based law firms again benefitted from a year dominated by tech and biotech.

Law firm rankings

Known for its Capital Markets practice, New York heavyweight Davis Polk appeared at #3. It paid to have a global presence in 2018, particularly in China, and foreign issuers boosted New York-based Skadden and Cayman Islands-based Maples to #4 and #5, respectively. A continued wave of blank check companies propelled SPAC specialist Ellenoff Grossman to #6. The tech and biotech trend also helped Boston-based biotech expert Goodwin Procter (#7) and Silicon Valley tech advisor Wilson Sonsini (#8).

For a more detailed analysis, read the full, original article here.

Workiva Named One of the 2019 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For

Workiva 100 Combined

AMES, Iowa – February 14, 2019Workiva (NYSE:WK), the leading cloud provider of connected data, reporting and compliance solutions, today announced it has been named one of the 2019 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® by global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and FORTUNE magazine.

Workiva ranked 80th on the 100 Best list, which is based on survey responses from more than 4.3 million employees who rated their workplace on many factors, including trust in their managers, compensation, fairness, camaraderie and workplace traits linked to innovation. The survey captured workplace experiences for all employees including women, people of color, LGBT individuals, older team members and disabled employees.

“Workiva is proud to be joining many of our customers in this prestigious group, which includes some of the most successful companies in the world,” said Marty Vanderploeg, CEO of Workiva. “Our company is based on core principles of respect, fairness and compassion, and we value all backgrounds, beliefs and interests.”

“We are successful because we put our employees first, listen to their voices and respond to their needs. This extra level of care gets passed on to our customers every day, which leads to our 95 percent customer satisfaction score,” added Vanderploeg.

A strong commitment to employee engagement – through one-on-one meetings, video conferences and digital chat rooms – keeps Workiva teams constantly connected and focused on achieving business goals and objectives.

“We’re building software solutions that have never existed before,” said Vanderploeg. “We give our employees the freedom and resources they need – backed by our culture of collaboration and diverse thought – to keep breaking new ground.”

Employees also have adaptable work hours. “Sometimes, real life happens between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., so our employees have the flexibility to attend their child’s afternoon school play, care for an ailing parent, plant trees in local parks or collect food for shelters,” said Vanderploeg.

“The 2019 100 Best are the leaders in creating the most innovative workplaces built on trust,” said Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Employees at these organizations feel valued, respected and heard, and are inspired to be their best selves because of the commitment these winning companies have made to creating a great workplace for all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the company.”

The 100 Best Companies is one of a series of rankings by Great Place to Work and FORTUNE based on employee feedback from Great Place to Work-Certified™ organizations. This is the eighth time Workiva has won an award from Great Place to Work and FORTUNE, including a 2019 Best Workplace in Technology award announced in January.

To see the full list of the 2019 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, click here.

Read full press release here.

CNBC: A giant IPO wave is coming as ‘unicorns’ whet investor appetite

From CNBC.com:

  • Renaissance Capital has a watch list of 226 private companies that are planning to go public in 2019. These companies represent a value of $697 billion.
  • IPOs could raise $100 billion this year, smashing through the records set in 1999 and 2000.
  • High-profile deals are on deck for Lyft, WeWork, Uber and Airbnb.

survey monkey

Now that the IPO market has reopened, traders are hopeful that an enormous pile of new stock offerings can be pushed through the door in 2019.

IPO observers are optimistic, and with some justification: There is an outside chance 2019 could be an all-time record for initial public offerings, passing even the legendary 1999 and 2000 years.

But for that to happen, a lot of things need to go almost perfectly. There can’t be any more government shutdowns, market conditions have to exhibit low volatility and — most importantly — the public needs to have an appetite to buy very large IPOs at (potentially) very inflated prices.

That’s a very tall order.

How big is the IPO market in 2019? Really big.

Renaissance Capital, which advises institutional buyers on IPOs and maintains the IPO ETF, a basket of roughly the last 60 large IPOs, has a watch list of 226 private companies that are planning to go public in 2019. These companies represent a value of $697 billion.

Assuming the companies float 15 percent of their value, you get over $100 billion in IPO offerings ($697 billion x 15 percent = $104.55 billion).

“That will break any record we have ever seen in terms of dollar volume,” Kathleen Smith of Renaissance tells CNBC. It would be bigger than 1999 and 2000, the years that represented the height of the dot-com IPO boom. There were $93 billion of IPOs in 1999 and $97 billion in 2000, according to Renaissance Capital.

The market has never gotten close to $100 billion in capital raised in a single year since then. In 2014, the total value raised was $85 billion, but $22 billion of that was for Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.

In terms of deals lined up for this year, of the 226 companies set to launch there are 119 companies that would be classified as “unicorns,” or private companies with valuations over $1 billion. This group includes well-known names like Uber, WeWork and Lyft.

Big IPOs waiting in the wings
(estimated valuations)

Uber $76 billion

GE Health Care $65 billion

WeWork $47 billion

Palantir $41 billion

Airbnb $31 billion

Lyft $15 billion

Source: Renaissance Capital

Renaissance admits the estimate may be conservative. The valuations are based on the last round of private funding. In a normal market, a company would try to go public at a higher level than its last private round.

That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s not clear who is going to buy all this stock.

“The issue is the capacity of the buy side to absorb all this issuance,” Smith said. “The constituency of IPO investors today are fewer and more institutional than they were in 1999-2000 when many individuals and small funds were active stock investors.”

The Wall Street banks that arrange IPOs seem quite confident they can pull off a big 2019, one that will equal or exceed the activity in 2018.

That’s according to the results of the 2019 BDO IPO Outlook Survey released Monday. BDO polled 100 capital markets executives working at investment banks in December 2018. Nearly half of them (42 percent) expect activity to increase, while 29 percent expect it to stay the same as last year and 29 percent expect it to decrease.

One important point from the survey is that if the price is not right, the survey participants made it clear that there were alternatives to going public. In fact, an IPO seems to be fairly far down on their wish list of possible exit strategies for these private companies.

About 53 percent of the 100 U.S. tech CFOs surveyed in BDO’s Technology Outlook Survey believe that pursuing M&A will be the most popular “exit strategy” or choice, followed by remaining private over going public (25 percent), having an IPO in the U.S. (14 percent) or an IPO in a foreign market (8 percent).

Renaissance’s Smith — who is a buyer of IPOs — is excited about all the well-known companies that may attempt an IPO in 2019. “Seems like a buyers market to me, when there is so much choice of product.”

Read the original CNBC.com article here.

Smartsheet Completes IPO Process Better, Faster with Workiva

smartsheet ipo

From Workiva.com — Smartsheet’s work execution platform helps over 75,000 businesses in 190 countries transform how they work, so it is no surprise the software firm decided against using a traditional printer for its initial public offering.

Smartsheet Vice President and Corporate Controller Senad Mustafic had used Wdesk, the cloud platform from Workiva, at a previous employer for 10-Qs, 10-Ks, and proxies, so he explored whether Smartsheet could use the platform for its S-1.

“I wouldn’t use a traditional tool to manage the S-1 document. It’s very important that all the data lives in one place where it can be comprehensively managed. Wdesk made it easier to control.”

-Senad Mustafic, Corporate Controller, Smartsheet

After a full demo and testimonials from other companies that leveraged the Workiva platform for IPOs, Senad and Jolene Marshall, Smartsheet’s Vice President of Legal, felt confident championing the cloud platform. Smartsheet then insisted that all parties working on its IPO, including banks and legal firms, not only manage their collaborative work using Smartsheet, but also accept its choice of Wdesk.

“We had full support from the internal leadership,” Senad said. “I give our CFO a lot of credit. She is not afraid to try new things and to deviate from traditional methods.”

Smartsheet had started drafting an S-1 even before it formally decided to go public. In the next month after starting its work with its bank and legal teams, Smartsheet used the platform to complete its first confidential filing.

That was in part due to the time-savings the platform delivered. In preparing for the IPO, Senad’s team was able to execute on one part of the document while the legal team at Fenwick & West LLP worked on another at the same time.

“Workiva provided our team a complete solution that is aligned with how our firm—and more importantly, our clients—work today. The deal team could focus on collaborating on the same document at any given time and keep the proper controls over the document and entire process.”

-Kat Duncan, Associate, Fenwick & West

Added Senad, “There was no waiting for the printer—or really anybody—to process changes. We were doing all of that in real time.”

Though the timeline was quick, Senad and his team did not want to sacrifice precision or control. Because the linking structure within Wdesk ensures data accuracy and the permissioning system limits who has access to what, Smartsheet experienced both. They executed their filing quickly, without qualms about the quality or accuracy of their document.

“I wouldn’t use a traditional tool to manage the S-1 document. It’s very important that all the data lives in one place where it can be comprehensively managed. Wdesk made it easier to control,” said Senad.

Along with the promised benefits of the platform came additional perks.

“I think it feels more real, “ said Senad. “You’re touching the real document that will go out the door and be published. It encourages interaction between teams and stakeholders and inspires a sense of ownership and responsibility in everyone.”

Workiva also provided a capital markets client services manager who was on-site during drafting sessions and also always on call to provide technical expertise. “Bobby was great—a very calming presence during drafting sessions and always available for any type of question,” said Senad. Bobby was so helpful that after the IPO, Smartsheet’s first question was, “Can we keep him?”

As a modern tech company, Smartsheet has continued to leverage the Workiva platform for its financial reporting as a public company.

“A lot of new technology is surfacing all the time. Some of it will definitely improve the way that we work and the way that we live. Why not be at the frontier of that?”

-Senad Mustafic, Corporate Controller, Smartsheet

“Why not be able to reap the very early benefits of technological advances rather than wait for everybody else to figure it out and then use it many years down the road, while the cost of lost productivity accumulates behind you. There’s no reason to wait.”

“The time to get those benefits is now.”

See what Workiva can do for you. Go to workiva.com/request-demo.

Download case study here.