2019 has been a landmark year for IPOs, with a number of tech unicorns going public in the wake of tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. We looked at the data to see which companies got the most attention.
An IPO can be a lengthy and complicated process, with companies having to be fully transparent with their finances before taking the leap.
Inevitably, this can lead to increased press scrutiny, and momentum and sentiment can be very important in determining which way an initial public offering goes in the first few months after launching. That said, the type of coverage that companies receive in the run up to and months after their stock market debuts can be crucial, so we wanted to look at a couple of things in that realm of coverage.
Firstly, we identified the most engaged and covered companies, and looked at the top stories about them. We also looked at which stories had the most impact on readers, both on a company by company and overall basis.
Secondly, we looked at the top publishers writing about IPOs this year, in terms of how much engagement they were getting, to see which publishers’ coverage was resonating most with the reading public in terms of meaningful interaction.
So let’s look at the data.
The most covered IPOs in 2019
The vast majority of the coverage did come on the web, as there was little to no chatter on native Facebook Pages about IPOs this year.
There were a number of web articles, however, that were particularly successful.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the most talked about IPOs on the web in 2019 are tech companies, though there were a couple of companies that bucked that trend, one of which did so spectacularly.
We looked at the top hundred articles about anything to do with an IPO, and divided them up by whichever company was being talked about in the story.
Uber was the most covered company by a considerable distance for initial public offerings in 2019, with almost a third of the top hundred articles mentioning the brand in its own right. This rises to nearly forty out of the top hundred stories when you include its mentions alongside Lyft, which occurred seven times in the top stories. Lyft was referenced on its own less frequently, appearing only six times in the list, less than a fifth of the attention Uber saw, though a lot of Uber’s coverage was not exactly positive.
Beyond the ride sharing apps, there were two companies that stood out from the crowd in terms of the amount that was written about them. One of these was WeWork, which again did not exactly come out with glowing coverage, with many of the top articles focusing on the company’s losses, and internal strife.
The other, which is the one company that was heavily covered that has come out with a majority of positive articles, was Beyond Meat. This was the second most written about company and almost all of the articles came from a positive standpoint, talking about the explosion in popularity of meat alternatives, and the success of the stock since its market debut.
When we break it out to look at the engagement, rather than just the number of articles, the data tells a similar story.
Uber still claimed the top spot, with some 186,000 engagements, but Beyond Meat was second, and not far behind, with almost 150,000 engagements. Articles that mentioned both Uber and Lyft garnered 90,000 engagements, and WeWork and Lyft rounded out the top five most engaged companies.
The rest of the companies in the top ten for engagements around going public this year all got less than 15,000 engagements, with Levi’s, Saudi Aramco, Zoom, Pinterest, and a combination of the last two filling the final spots.
For the actual content that drove the most engagement on Facebook and Twitter, the picture is dominated by negative stories.
The top article came from NPR, with just over 40,000 engagements, and was focused on a strike from Uber and Lyft drivers around the time the IPO preparations for the former were in full swing. This story featured twice more in the top ten, making up three of the most engaged articles.
Another negative story came from the New York Times, and had the story of new millionaires about to enter San Francisco and ‘eat it alive’. Once again, Beyond Meat was the only company that managed to generate some positive hype with its most engaged articles, with four in the top ten talking about either the success of the company or its stock market debut.
There is a bit less negativity when we break it out by the top story by company, as in the chart below.
Here, we have eliminated stories that mention more than one company in the headline, and narrowed the search to the top story about each company.
Many of the articles talk simply about the valuation, as we see with Levi’s, WeWork, and Pinterest, but we also see success profiles do well for some companies. Examples of this include positive profiles and interviews with the CEO’s of Zoom and Jumia respectively.
But what about the companies who were most successful writing about IPOs?
The most successful publishers about IPOs in 2019
As you may have deduced from the top articles in the previous section, it tends to be the traditional business publishers who get the most engagement when it comes to coverage of companies going public.
When we looked at the publishers who appeared most frequently in the top hundred stories, a clear winner emerged. Reuters had 30 of the top articles, more than double any of its competitors in the space. Business Insider had 15, while CNBC had six, though it is worth noting that four of the top articles about individual brands did come from CNBC, so while it may not have had as much frequency as other publishers, the volume certainly was there.
When we break it out to engagement, NPR and Vox charge up the rankings, simply because of one or two very highly engaged articles. Once again, Reuters and Business Insider are well ahead of everyone else when it comes to engagement on coverage of IPOs, so if you’re trying to get attention for your upcoming IPO, or do some damage control after it hasn’t quite gone to plan, then you know where to go.
Some key takeaways from our findings, then:
- Uber was the most written about company when it came to IPOs, and also the most engaged
- Reuters and Business Insider dominated in terms of the publications that drove engagement for IPO content
- Beyond Meat had the most positive coverage of any of the major IPO players in 2019
Want to track for yourself the reaction to news about different companies, public or otherwise? Check out NewsWhip Spike.