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Palantir’s direct listing snafu

October 1, 2020, 2:28 PM UTC

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Asana and Palantir walked into the spotlight Wednesday by going public through the fairly green process of a direct listing—on the same day, no less.

While shares of both companies ended the day above their private market values, some early Palantir investors may have had trouble cashing out due to tech issues, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A main premise of direct listings is that existing shareholders are able to cash out on their shares even while the company itself doesn’t raise funding. 

But according to the WSJ, current and former employees struggled to sell their shares after the data-mining decacorn began trading at $10 a share at 1:40 p.m. ET. The problem, attributed to “technical difficulties” around Morgan Stanley’s equity management platform Shareworks, eased up over time and was resolved entirely about two hours later. But some still had trouble trading through the market’s close at 4:00 p.m. ET, when shares of Palantir had fallen to $9.50 apiece—missing out on the chance to cash out on the day’s high of $11.42.

A Shareworks spokesperson told the Journal that the system had experienced slowness, though call centers were still available to complete trades at the time. “We will work through any issue that is brought to our attention and ensure that no employee will be disadvantaged,” they said, with another source suggesting that those who sold shares at a lower price would somehow have them made whole.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham was asked if she thought the distant cousin of the direct listing process, the special purpose acquisition company, had staying power, given that the process boomed in ‘07 amid frothy markets and then faded. Her take? “The SPACs of yesteryear are nothing like the SPACs that are listing today,” she said to Fortune’s Jen Wiezcner.

COINBASE: After CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a controversial note saying the company would minimize any social activism work, the company is now apparently offering a severance package to those who don’t feel comfortable working with the company. Read more.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


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