Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2016 (Revised February 2017)

Square, Inc. IPO

by Ramana Nanda, Robert White and Lauren G. Pickle


In November 2015, Square, Inc. launched its initial public offering (IPO). The IPO had an offering price of $9 per share, lower than the $11 to $13 estimate that had been outlined in the preliminary prospectus and 42% below the $15.50 share price in its most recent financing less than a year before. The lower-than-anticipated pricing of Square’s IPO, and the implied valuation, had left investors and market observers wondering if this was an indication of a valuation bubble or a shift in the market. The case provides an overview of the IPO process and examines U.S. IPO trends from the 1980s to mid-2010s. It explores the rationales behind an increasing number of billion-dollar-plus private valuations, known as “unicorns” and explores who the winners and losers are when such firms go public at lower valuations.

Keywords: initial public offering; business finance; Initial Public Offering; Equity; Capital Markets; Public Equity; Stocks; Venture Capital; Financial Services Industry; United States;


Nanda, Ramana, Robert White, and Lauren G. Pickle. "Square, Inc. IPO." Harvard Business School Case 817-054, November 2016. (Revised February 2017.)