Insightful with a lot of data and well-articulated points. But the article needs to clarify the distinction between two concepts which look like mixed together here:
1. The current IPO process and model
2. The post IPO drop in the share price of the listed tech companies occurring in 2019
I agree with a lot of points that current IPO process and model is expensive, lacks transparency and has a lot of room for improvement, and yes direct listing is a viable alternative in some (but not all) cases.
But I disagree that the current process is to blame for 2019 underperformance of Tech IPOs.
After you go public and shares are fully trading on the secondary market, the influence of the IPO process becomes minimal and day-to-day trading mechanisms of the market are kicking in which are working out price discovery and valuation.
The reason behind 2019 Tech IPO underperformance is way too high valuations for which companies are pushing at IPO, and generally way too high valuations in private markets these days.
The article mentions this and says that it is difficult to prove this hypothesis. Well, it is difficult to prove any hypothesis in corporate finance generally as it is social and not an exact science. But as a practitioner, I would argue that while many factors are playing the role, too high valuations at the start of public life are the driving force of moving the needle behind 2019 events.
And as we saw direct listings did not save the companies from severely underperforming in share price after going public, so the alternate process did not fix underperformance issue.
When something has flaws it is easy to demonize it and blame for too many things which are not its fault, and in the case of IPO process, this is what is happening nowadays.