By Jarrett Banks
In an interview with IPO Edge, Jack Cassel, Nasdaq’s VP of New Listings & Capital Markets, said Nasdaq Private Market, which helps pre-IPO companies facilitate shareholder liquidity, is seeing an uptick in its transaction pipeline as the pandemic runs its course. The full interview is below:
IPO Edge: You’re in the Bay Area. Tell us about the huge amount of listings coming from there.
Nasdaq has had a presence in the Bay Area for over 25 years. After launching Nasdaq Private Market in 2013, we acquired SecondMarket in 2015 and really solidified our presence as a leader in private company secondary transactions. And though we have offices in San Francisco as well as New York, I’d say probably about 60% of the private market transactions happen in the Bay Area with the other 40% in the rest of the rest of the world. We’ve been fortunate to be at the forefront of that innovation on the private market side, and then servicing those clients all the way through their life cycles.
IPO Edge: Can you talk about how Covid-19 affected your business?
We were fortunate to get off to a great start to the year when Covid hit, and then we saw a slowdown in March and April. I think what our team does and what the ethos of Nasdaq is, is that ‘customer-first’ perspective, where we were there talking to a lot of our clients and a lot of our prospects, answering questions, providing support and complimentary advice. As we saw this upswing of volume, people found their balance in the market and began to pick their heads up and say “Okay, we can come back to executing on a secondary through either a tender offer or share repurchase.”
That’s why I think we had such a good bounce back in the private markets. For Nasdaq Private Market, specifically through late April, we started these conversations to get the deals launched and out in May. And then we’ve been off and running since then. It’s pretty correlated to the IPO market—there’s just a lot of investor demand, especially for good companies.
About 10 of these private company secondaries were with companies valued at over $1 billion, known as unicorns. We are the premier platform for unicorns just because of our scale and because of our breadth of technology that we bring with Nasdaq’s muscle behind it from an exchange perspective.
IPO Edge: Do you have any idea where it’s all going for the rest of the year?
Coming into this year, we had predicted that there would be a slowdown in November due to the election. When I look at the second half of the year, I’m very optimistic about the pipeline and the conversations we are having with private companies. Again, we have so much repeat business, which includes many clients coming back to us saying they’re planning to do a liquidity program this fall, or are on the heels of another fundraising round to either clean up the cap table or provide liquidity to employees.
I’m very bullish on what the rest of the year looks like on the private markets side but I think in the public markets the election will come into play.
IPO Edge: How are you generating competitiveness in the market?
By bringing additional buyers in. By running a continuous market, buyers also have the opportunity to get their full allotment continuously over the time that the market is run.
We’re talking to probably 10 to 15 private companies on this right now—all unicorns, all looking at accessing the public markets in the next 12 months. So, it’s starting to really pick up momentum, and I think that’s going to be a trend we’ll see through the next year too.