Unity, which sells software to create video games, is trying out a new bidding process for a public listing later this month, adding to the growing number of companies seeking alternatives to the traditional IPO.
Prospective institutional investors will be asked how many shares they wish to buy, and at what price, by an online system managed by Goldman Sachs, according to a notice sent out to explain the new process. Investors can place multiple bids at difference prices.
Unity will select a price for the offering after the bids are entered, allocating a portion of the shares to all investors who indicated interest above that price level, according to the notice, which was viewed by the Financial Times.
The company will have discretion to choose how the offering is split between different investors and may choose to use an auction-like process that proportionally assigns shares, said people briefed on Unity’s thinking.
“Indications of interest that are below the selected price will not result in the allocation of any shares,” the notice read.
The process is meant to create a more transparent method for gauging investor demand compared to traditional IPOs, the people said. It also gives Unity more power to decide on its pricing and investor base compared to the usual process.
Goldman and Unity declined to comment on the company’s plans.
Unity’s push comes as tech companies increasingly consider alternatives to traditional IPOs, which some venture capitalists such as Bill Gurley argued are inefficient and lacking in transparency. The software companies Asana and Palantir have both opted for direct listings when they go public this month, foregoing the capital-raising process traditionally associated with new listings.
Unity’s approach closely resembles the Dutch auction process used by Google during its IPO, which has divided opinion and inspired few imitators. The company has asked investors to submit bids by September 16 so that it can determine a price on the following day.
In the usual IPO process, bankers largely determine a company’s offering price following discussions with institutional investors, such as big mutual funds. Unlike in Unity’s approach, investors in traditional IPOs can place orders for blocks of shares without indicating a specific price, leaving more room for negotiation between the buyers and underwriters of the sale to determine the market price.
Unity is seeking to raise more than $1bn at the top end of its price range of $34 to $42 per share. The company reported net losses of $163.2m last year on revenues of $541.8m.
At the top end of Unity’s price range, the company would command a market capitalisation of almost $11.1bn, based on the total number of shares outstanding. Credit Suisse is also serving as a lead underwriter in the offering alongside Goldman.