Preparing for an IPO: In-House Best Practices

Preparing for an IPO can be intimidating and time-consuming for the in-house legal team!

Join our moderator Kiki Haar, who, along with David Lee, Einat Levy, and Evan Ferl discussed their experiences of going public, delving into how to prepare and lessons learned.

Key Takeaways:

  • The earlier you can start preparing for an IPO, the better

  • Public company readiness is vital

  • Project plan the entire legal-team structure pre and post IPO

  • Make sure work-streams are consistent to maintain day-to-day operations

  • Build + maintain strong trust with senior leadership

  • Continue to promote company culture through the transition

Meet the Presenters:

  • Host: Raad Ahmed: CEO & Founder at Lawtrades, marketplace for flexible legal talent.

  • Moderator: Kiki Haar, GC, Sumo Logic

  • Presenters:

How Far in Advance:

5:13-10:40

  • Einat: “The earlier the better”

    • Ideal to start preparing a year before, as the last six months are hectic

    • Work with companies who are ready, for operations run smoother

  • Evan: “Start acting as a public company”

    • Beef up company preparedness, remember back & front end processes

    • A strong GC should be backed by an appropriate management team

  • Kiki: “Reactive solutions don’t scale, only proactive solutions do”

    • Assess the building blocks as a GC, consider how the company will continue to expand

Managing the IPO Team:

10:40-15:11

  • David: “Public company readiness is very important”

    • Make a milestone date when you should actually make the decision on going public

    • Have someone to build relationships that merge communication between cross-functional teams

  • Evan: “Have someone who can truly project manage on-board”

    • A powerful lead who can disconnect from work itself and focus on the end goal

Get on Top of Work Streams:

15:11-19:20

  • Einat: “Use outside counsel to your advantage”

    • Avoid overwhelming work-flows by managing work streams and utilizing help early on

    • Prepare ahead by learning the little things (KPIs, BI, etc.)

  • Kiki: “Checklists are a really useful thing”

    • Coordinate relationships between outside counsel and in-house team

Building Out the Team:

19:20-28:52

  • Evan: “Don’t forget to hire”

    • Think about what you need for IPO process as well as what you need to act as a public company

    • Have a close relationship with outside counsel you can really trust

  • Kiki: “Build out your team to run the business”

    • Conversely, you can choose to rely on your team to run the business end and devote your time to the IPO

    • Use extra resources (company counsel, underwriters, etc.) often

  • David: “IPOs are tried and true”

    • Identify the heavy lifting, see where you can add the most value

    • Utilize soft skills to add value in learning the business to understand where the execs and players fit within it

Skills the GC can Bring:

28:52-31:29

  • David: “Build trust as fast as possible”

    • Form close relationships with senior leadership

    • Rely on visibility and trust to be able to relay bad news

Managing the Cultural Shift:

31:29-36:30

  • Evan: “Carry both torches”

    • GC should separate standardizing processes & procedures and the actual culture of the company

    • Can still have an innovative culture while also being stewards of the public company

  • Kiki: “Fundamental point is communication”

    • Not an overnight switch, it takes time to ingrain these new procedures

Long-Term Success:

36:30-41:50

  • David: “An entire growth moment for the company”

    • There are good things, and there are different things with the transition

    • Have confidence in hiring and building out the team

  • Kiki: “Leverage the IPO to get what you want”

    • Have conversations with the management team to get what you need to minimize risk and be at the best point for success

Lessons Learned:

41:50-48:30

  • Evan: “Get people that can tell you those things mid-stream”

    • Talk often, ask questions, and learn to be comfortable with how the business runs

  • Kiki: “Push yourself in to those conversations”

    • Ask to be included and push your way into management conversations

    • Don’t forget to enjoy the energy & excitement of this unique process

  • David: “Building in checkpoints”

    • Convey what an IPO is and what you need to command as a resource in the process

    • Be focused on company readiness and guide the transition openly

  • Einat: “The equity in employees”

    • Predict the huge workflow & ask questions early on

    • Make sure to utilize outside help when necessary

    Want to continue the conversation? Request access to join our exclusive community of GCs!

    Also, check out our next event workshop, ‘Managing Hyper-Growth as a GC’, with Milana McCullagh, DGC, Coinbase, on August 19th.