Private Market Update - May 2024

Private market continues positive upward momentum in April

Key Takeaways
  • The Forge Private Market Index was up 0.7% in April, outpacing many public market ETFs for the month

  • Core private market metrics remained roughly in line with prior months, reinforcing signs of a potential market rebound

  • Cybersecurity unicorn Rubrik’s IPO and a growing IPO calendar suggest more exit activity could be ahead

Overview

In April, the Forge Private Market Index rose by 0.7%.1 The positive performance stands in contrast to public equity markets, which declined during the month on fears that sticky inflation and a resilient U.S. economy could cause the Federal Reserve to maintain elevated interest rates for a longer-than-expected period of time.2 The private market has historically moved more slowly than public equity markets on both the upside and downside, so strength in the public markets has the potential to translate into better prospects for private companies as well after a lag period.

During the month, the Forge Private Market Index was led by three top-performing companies in the index.3 Defense technology company Anduril (+39.1%) was the best-performing index constituent in April, with the strong month adding further to its +41.7% year-to-date (YTD) performance through April 30, 2024. Rippling (+24.0%), an IT and HR solutions provider, was the second-best company in the month and is up +49.7% YTD through April 30, 2024. Finally, cloud protection company Vectra Networks was up +20.9% for both the month and the YTD period through April 30, 2024.

Several index constituents were the leading detractors during the month. Logistics and technology company Flexport declined -5.1% in April and is down -16.8% for the year. Video game creator Epic Games was down -8.3% in April, though the company remains up +29.3% for the YTD period through April 30, 2024 — a sign of the dynamic price movements that are possible among private companies. Meanwhile, Asapp (-52.8%), an AI cloud provider for contact centers, was the worst performer for the month and is down -67.1% for the year through April 30, 2024.

The IPO market continues to emerge from its slumber, as two venture-backed companies completed IPOs in April. Tech marketing company Ibotta (NYSE: IBTA) — which was backed by Walmart, among other investors — raised $577 million in its debut, above expected levels.4 Ibotta stock’s offering was priced at $88 and ended its first trading day at $103.25, posting a 17% rise and has generally remained above $100.5

Cybersecurity unicorn Rubrik (NYSE: RBRK) also went public during the month, pricing its IPO at $32 a share and raising $752 million at a $5.6 billion valuation.6 Rubrik was up +16% on its first day, closing at $37 per share, but has since declined and is trading closer to its opening price. 7

Looking ahead, the IPO pipeline continues to grow,8 a symptom of companies having delayed their public debuts but a sign that more might be on the way. Of note, there were only 287 IPOs in the first quarter of 2024, a pace below even the lows of recent years, suggesting that the pipeline continues to build.9 If the IPOs of venture-backed companies continue to be received favorably by the market (based on higher opening prices and resilient performance from their debuts), then what was formerly a headwind has the potential to turn into a tailwind.

Overall, the momentum in the private market from last month showed no signs of slowing in April. If those trends continue moving forward, valuations for private companies could see a potential rebound emerging after a long period of challenging conditions.

The Details

The Forge Private Market Index was up 0.7% in April

During April, the Forge Private Market Index posted positive performance of 0.7%.10 For the month, the Forge Private Market Index outpaced many comparable public equity ETFs, including Invesco QQQ ETF,11 which tracks the tech-heavy Nasdaq-100; the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM),12 which tracks the performance of small-cap companies; and the Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO), which tracks an index of U.S. companies with recent IPOs.13

In April, the distribution of premiums/discounts to the last primary funding round remained roughly in line with prior time periods. For the month, private companies on Forge Markets traded at a median discount of -51%, which is roughly consistent with prior quarters. The top 10% companies traded at a +29% premium to their last primary round valuation, while the bottom 10% rose slightly to a -73% discount.

In April, the median bid/ask spread on Forge Markets declined further to 8.8%, remaining below the four-year average.

IOI data suggests continued demand for private company transactions

During April, the proportion of buy indications of interest (IOIs) remained above 60%, just below March’s level, which had been the highest since November 2021. It’s important to remember that IOIs often require significant time before trades can be completed, so two months with a 60%+ percentage of buy IOIs could signal an extended period of buyer interest.

While buy interest has remained elevated from prior levels, sellers are also seeing increasing activity. The number of distinct companies with at least one sell IOI on Forge Markets hit 222 in April. After posting a recent high in March, the number grew again and remains at the highest level since August 2023.

Looking ahead

Taken all together, the continued positive performance of the Forge Private Market Index, a building IPO pipeline, and stable core private market metrics suggest that the pre-IPO market may indeed be recovering. While the path ahead may not be linear, the environment appears far more supportive for the private market after two turbulent years.

1 Forge Data, as of 4/30/24

2 Reuters, 4/18/24

3 Forge Data, as of 4/30/24

4 Denver Post, 4/18/24

5 Yahoo! Finance, 5/15/24

6 CNBC, 4/26/24

7 Yahoo! Finance, 5/15/24

8 Forge Tech IPO Calendar, as of 5/15/24

9 EY, 4/15/24

10 Forge Data, as of 4/30/24. Performance of the Forge Private Market Index prior to the index launch in May 2023 is calculated using hypothetical performance based on historical Forge data.

11 Invesco, as of 4/30/24

12 Yahoo! Finance, as of 4/30/24

13 Renaissance Capital, as of 4/30/24

About the Author

Craig Derbenwick is Senior Director of Content Strategy at Forge. In his role, he leads the development and execution of cross-channel marketing and thought leadership content. Prior to Forge, he spent 15 years in financial marketing roles and as a consultant for asset management and fintech companies. Read more from Craig.

About Forge

Forge Global Holdings, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries, “Forge”) is a leading provider of marketplace infrastructure, data services and technology solutions for private market participants.

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The Forge Private Market Index is calculated and disseminated by Forge Data and is a mark of Forge Data. All rights reserved. The Forge Private Market Index is solely for informational purposes and is based upon information from sources believed to be reliable. It is not possible to invest in the Forge Private Market Index, and Forge Data makes no assurance that any investment products based on or underlying the Forge Private Market Index will accurately track index performance or provide positive investment performance. Forge Data is not an investment adviser and makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in any asset classes or investment vehicles. This is not a recommendation, offer, solicitation of an offer, or advice to buy or sell securities by Forge Securities LLC (“Forge Securities”) or any of its affiliates, nor an offer of brokerage services in any jurisdiction where Forge Securities is not permitted to offer brokerage services. Registered representatives of Forge Securities do not (1) advise any party on the merits of a particular transaction; (2) assist in the determination of fair value of any security; or (3) provide legal, tax, or transactional advisory services. Securities and investments are offered only to customers of Forge Securities, a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA & SIPC. Securities referenced in this article may be offered by Forge Securities, and certain Forge affiliates may act as principals in such transactions. See Forge Global, Inc. and its affiliates’ Disclosure Library (Disclaimers & Disclosures and Form CRS) for additional disclosures. Private company securities are highly illiquid, and the Forge Private Market Index may rely on a very limited number of trade and/or indication of interest inputs in its calculation. Brokerage products and services are offered by Forge Securities, a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC. By downloading this content, you acknowledge that you have reviewed and are subject to the Forge Private Market Index disclaimers and disclosures which contains other important disclaimers, disclosures and restrictions related to the Forge Private Market Index. Additionally, if you are accessing this content away from forgeglobal.com, you acknowledge that you have reviewed and are subject to Forge’s Terms of Use with respect to use and distribution of information as if you were accessing this content on forgeglobal.com.