July 20, 2021

IPOs: Lockups Ain’t What They Used to Be

Lockup agreements prohibiting insiders from selling for 180 days or more after an offering have long been a customary part of the IPO process. Last week, the WSJ published an article pointing out that the terms of its lockup arrangements were among some of the unusual features of Robinhood’s proposed IPO:

When Robinhood shares start trading at the end of this month, employees will be able to sell 15% of their holdings immediately, rather than after the traditional six-month lockup period, according to a regulatory filing. Three months later, they can sell another 15%. In the past 12 months, several companies have experimented with looser lockups. In September, data-warehousing company Snowflake Inc. said employees could sell as much as 25% of their vested stock after roughly three months. Then Airbnb Inc. said it would allow employees to sell up to 15% of their shares in the first seven trading days.

This Foley & Lardner blog notes that although the traditional 180 day lockup is still the standard, there is a clear trend toward companies structuring lockup periods with different durations for different parties. But the blog also points out that the trend toward looser lockups hasn’t extended to SPAC IPOs, which have accounted for the greatest share of IPO volume in recent periods. SPAC deals continue to customarily include lockups of a year or more.

John Jenkins