Direct listings enable a company to go public without issuing new shares, instead allowing existing shareholders to sell shares on the chosen exchange. Direct listings have been an awfully hot topic as of late, seen as a means of reducing the friction and expenses of going public. Slack debuted publicly via a direct listing in 2019 and Spotify did the same the year before. Airbnb has also reportedly expressed interest in a direct listing.
Asana, co-founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, builds productivity software that allows teams to assign tasks, track progress and set deadlines for projects.
Direct listings have been lauded by many in Silicon Valley as a way to strip the steep bank underwriting fees, lengthy roadshows, and some regulatory hoops from the process. Last year, venture capitalist Bill Gurley hosted a one-day conference devoted to preaching the gospel of direct listings. The New York Stock Exchange filed paperwork in November to the SEC, hoping to expand direct listings and allow companies pursuing them to raise new capital during the process. The proposal was rejected weeks later, though the NYSE seems determined to double down on efforts to evolve the direct listing process.
Asana is interestingly a much smaller company than Slack or Spotify and has raised much less capital. The startup has raised about $213 million according to Crunchbase. In late 2018, Asana raised a $50 million Series E at a $1.5 billion valuation. Debuting via a public listing suggests that the company may be satisfied with the cash it has on hand.