CrowdStrikes CEO on how to IPO, direct listings and whats ahead for SaaS startups

A few days before Christmas, TechCrunch caught up with CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz to chat about his companys public offering, direct listings and his expectations for the 2020 IPO market. We also spoke about CrowdStrikes product niche endpoint security and a bit more on why he views his company as the Salesforce of security.
The conversation is timely. Of the 2019 IPO cohort, CrowdStrikes IPO stands out as one of the years most successful debuts. As 2020s IPO cycle is expected to be both busy and inclusive of some of the private markets biggest names, Kurtzs views are useful to understand. After all, his SaaS security company enjoyed a strong pricing cycle, a better-than-expected IPO fundraising haul and strong value appreciation after its debut.
Notably, CrowdStrike didnt opt to pursue a direct listing; after chatting with the CEO of recent IPO concerning why his SaaS company also decided on a traditional flotation, we wanted to hear from Kurtz as well. The security CEO called the current conversation around direct listings a great debate, before explaining his perspective.
Pulling from a longer conversation, what follows are Kurtzs four tips for companies gearing up for a public offering, why his company elected chose a traditional public offering over a more exotic method, comments on endpoint security and where CrowdStrike fits inside its market, and, finally, quick notes on upcoming debuts.
The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How to go public successfully

Share often

Whats most important is the fact that when we IPOd in June of 2019, we started the process three years earlier. And that is the number one thing that I can point to. When [CrowdStrike CFO Burt Podbere] and I went on the road show everybody knew us, all the buy side investors we had met with for three years, the sell side analysts knew us. The biggest thing that I would say is you cant go on a road show and have someone not know your company, or not know you, or your CFO.
And we would share as a private company, you share less but we would share tidbits of information. And we built a level of consistency over time, where we would share something, and then they would see it come true. And we would share something else, and they would see it come true. And we did that over three years. So we built, I believe, trust with the street, in anticipation of, at some point in the future, an IPO.

Practice early

We spent a lot of time running the company as if it was public, even when we were private. We had our own earnings call as a private company. We would write it up and we would script it.
Youve seen other companies out there, if they dont get their house in order its very hard to go [public]. And we believe we had our house in order. We ran it that way [which] allowed us to think and operate like a public company, which you want to get out of the way before you come become public. If theres a takeaway here for folks that are thinking about [going public], run it and act like a public company before youre public, including simulated earnings calls. And once you become public, you already have that muscle memory.

Why didnt pursue a direct listing
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