An IPO frenzy means a hiring surge for investor relations and legal experts, with some soon-to-be-public companies offering 7-figure equity packages

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It’s already been a record-breaking year for IPOs, and this summer is packed with more expected public debuts.

The wave of initial public offerings means there’s also lots of companies that need to prep for financial filings, reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other scrutiny that comes with being a publicly traded firm. 

Demand is high for investor-relations talent and other supporting services, and pay is rising,  especially with companies sweetening the deal through large equity packages, Richard Marshall, global managing director for corporate affairs and investor relations at the recruiting firm Korn Ferry, told Insider in an email.

“With the proliferation of SPACS and an IPO market that’s hotter now than before 2018 and 2019, top talent is really at a premium,” Marshall wrote.

Marshall said that while equity-compensation packages for top investor-relations roles vary widely by industry sector and geography, seven-figure packages aren’t uncommon.

US IPOs raised $171 billion so far in 2021, smashing a record $168 billion for all of last year, per Dealogic stats cited by Reuters in mid-June. And a big part of that was IPOs via special-purpose acquisition companies — debuts of shell companies that have not yet bought and taken another company public yet. 

Two of Korn Ferry’s recent clients, both large, publicly traded companies, had made formal offers to candidates for open roles, only to lose out to a pre-IPO company “that swooped in at the last minute to make an exceptionally big equity offer,” Marshall wrote.

Equity research analysts from Wall Street banks comprise a major talent pool for pre-IPO companies, given their in-depth knowledge of corporate finance. These equity-research jobs are under threat as banks’ research budgets decline due to challenges posed by both automation and regulation.

As equity research at these Wall Street banks “continues its secular decline,” Marshall said, equity analysts are moving over to investor-relations roles in droves. 

Legal recruiters are also seeing a surge in demand for seasoned in-house lawyers for companies looking to go public. The number of clients seeking GCs has increased 37% in the past year, said Monique Burt Williams, CEO of Cadence Counsel, which specializes in in-house legal recruiting.

Fintechs and financial services companies have especially been active in expanding their legal teams as they shore up for growth.

“This year has created an atmosphere for more of a propensity to take risk, and people are maximizing on potential for growth. Everybody knows we’re on the brink of something,” said Williams.

There’s also been an uptick in companies looking to contract in-house lawyers on an interim basis — a way for them to find the specialized legal talent they need to handle the transition without having to permanently take on risk, Williams said.

From lifestyle brands to fintechs, here are some of the companies that have made hires or have posted jobs looking to bolster their investor-relations and legal ranks:

Already went public or filed publicly available S-1 statements:

Affirm 

Affirm, the buy now, pay later fintech, went public in January. It hired Ronald Clark as its new vice president of investor relations in March, hiring him from Eventbrite, where he led its capital-markets and investor-relations group. Before that, Clark headed investor relations at Yelp, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Bright Health

The health insurance startup Bright Health, backed by the hedge fund Tiger Global, made its trading debut on June 24.

The company is hiring across its investor-relations and legal teams, according to job postings. Open positions have included director and vice president roles in investor relations as well as a senior corporate counsel role with responsibilities including supporting “public company securities work,” all posted in late May or early June.

Bumble

Whitney Wolfe became the youngest female CEO to take her company public in February when Bumble, the social-media company best known for its female-first dating app, had its IPO. A few months earlier, Bumble hired Laura Franco from CBS — where she served as general counsel — as its chief legal and compliance officer, per her LinkedIn page.

Buzzfeed

In late June, the media company Buzzfeed announced that it’s going public through a deal with a SPAC, which is expected to close by the end of the year. The digital publisher is also acquiring Complex Networks, another media company, as part of the transaction, bringing the total valuation to $1.5 billion, according to its investor presentation. Buzzfeed has a job posting for an in-house counsel to manage “regulatory filings, approvals, and compliance,” as well as other corporate and commercial transactions.

dLocal

The financial tech company dLocal, which was founded in 2016 and has been hailed as the first Uruguayan unicorn, hired Julia Vater Fernández in February as an investor-relations officer. Previously, she supervised investor relations at Mercado Libre, a leading e-commerce tech company in Latin America. dLocal, which specializes in cross-border payments in emerging markets, started trading on June 3.

Doximity 

The 10-year old digital-health company Doximity is looking for an SEC reporting manager, a newly created role at the firm that will report to the senior director of technical accounting and reporting. Doximity is seeking someone with knowledge of US generally accepted accounting principles and public-accounting experience, per the job posting.

The company filed an S-1, indicating its intent to go public, with the SEC in June. 

LegalZoom

LegalZoom made waves in the legal-tech space when it filed for an IPO in early June. The company’s mission is to “democratize law” through flat-fee subscription services for small businesses, per its S-1 filing, and it has since expanded to provide more legal, compliance, tax, and business services.

LegalZoom hired Nicole Miller as its general counsel in June. She was previously an in-house lawyer at The Honest Company, the consumer-goods brand founded by the actress Jessica Alba, and before that she was an attorney at top law firms Cooley and Gibson Dunn. The Honest Company went public in May.

Marqeta

The virtual-card issuer Marqeta is looking for a manager on its investor-relations team with four to six years of public-company or equity research experience who will be based at the company’s Oakland, California, headquarters. Marqeta went public in early June. 

Poshmark

The used-fashion retailer Poshmark, which went public in January, hired Evan Ferl from Hired Inc., where he was general counsel, in November to be its new head lawyer, according to his LinkedIn profile. Christine Chen, formerly a strategic advisor at the women’s lifestyle brand Brit + Co, also joined Poshmark as head of investor relations last year, also according to LinkedIn.

SoFi

The online personal-finance company SoFi, which helps users refinance their student loans, get personal loans, and invest, became a publicly traded company on June 1 after a SPAC merger. Also known as Social Finance, the company is looking for compliance specialists to help respond to regulatory inquiries about its investing business from the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and other regulators. Additionally, SoFi is hiring associates and senior associates for its investor-relations team.

Sprinklr

Sprinklr, which started trading on June 23, was founded in 2009 and develops customer-experience management software that helps large companies with marketing, advertising, and engagement. Its legal department is looking for a senior counsel to do legal work focused on supporting corporate, security, and governance matters in addition to “a potential focus on SEC and public company matters.”

Confidentially filed S-1s:

NerdWallet

The personal-finance startup NerdWallet confidentially filed to go public in April, according to Reuters. The company has steadily been growing  with a series of acquisitions, including Fundera, a small-business loan marketplace, in November. NerdWallet recently hired its new general counsel, Ekumene Lysonge, who joined in April and will be “essential” to its strategy and continuous growth into “a more mature, global company,” according to CEO Tim Chen.

Robinhood

Robinhood announced it confidentially filed for an IPO in March. The trading app has been hiring lawyers and some of the most well-connected law firms in the US to negotiate deals, scale up its compliance efforts, and spar with regulators.

Robinhood is looking to boost its legal team with new hires, including an attorney to handle “regulatory submissions and filings and reporting on regulatory requirements internally and in public filings;” a commercial senior counsel; and privacy senior counsel.

Warby Parker 

Warby Parker, the trendy eyewear brand, announced it has confidentially filed for its IPO on June 22. The company’s been on the lookout for an assistant general counsel “armed with extensive knowledge of corporate and securities law for public companies, especially when it comes to SEC and stock exchange compliance.” It also was hiring its first head of investor relations, who will be tasked with SEC compliance, public disclosures, and quarterly earnings reports. 

Warby Parker did not respond to requests for comment.

Reportedly hired bankers to prep for an IPO:

Allbirds

Rumors about the shoemaker Allbirds preparing a public offering started to emerge in late April after The New York Times reported that Allbirds was in discussions with banks. The Silicon Valley-based company, last valued at $1.7 billion, seems to be gearing up for a potential public debut with a slew of open roles. The firm is hiring an SEC reporting and technical-accounting manager and a senior stock administrator. It also had an internal-audit-manager role listed last week that has since been taken down. 

Allbirds did not respond to requests for comment.

Rivian

Rivian, the Amazon-backed electric-vehicle startup, hired underwriters for an IPO that could come later this year, according to a Bloomberg report in May. In June, the Tesla rival hired Derek Mulvey, who spent six years at JPMorgan, as senior manager of its investor-relations and strategic-finance team, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rivian declined to comment.

Other companies:

Flexport 

The freight-logistics company Flexport, founded in 2013 and backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, is searching for a head of investor relations to work out of its headquarters in Dallas. The new hire will ideally bring 10-plus years of experience to the role and will “develop and implement an investor relations program to communicate our strategy to the relevant stakeholders,” per the job posting on Linkedin. While the company has not announced plans to go public, the hiring push could signal it is now considering the option more seriously after undergoing a significant restructuring and a round of layoffs in February 2020. 

Grove Collaborative

The natural-products retailer Grove Collaborative is seeking a San Francisco-based director of investor relations with more than seven years of experience, according to a LinkedIn posting. Responsibilities include developing press releases, investor presentations, earnings scripts, and other materials, according to the posting. 

While the company has not announced concrete plans to go public, speculation about an imminent offering has been prevalent among investors, especially after its retail debut in Target stores in April. 

Grove Collaborative did not respond to requests for comment.

Stripe

The online payment-processing company Stripe, which is advertising thousands of open roles, has been subject to fierce speculation about its IPO plans. The company, which is valued at $95 billion, made a few key hires last year, including Trish Walsh from Voya Financial to be its general counsel, per her LinkedIn page, and Sarah Fu, a former public investor at Fidelity who now leads corporate finance and investor relations, according to her LinkedIn.

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