An IPO is an Initial Public Offering. This is the initial sale of stock to the public from private investors and holders of the company. There are several reasons why a company would issue stock to the public. Publicly traded stock allows the company to offer shares in mergers and acquisitions, easing the mechanism in purchasing other companies and lowering the cost. Publicly traded stock also allows the company to offer incentives to employees, by giving shares of stock. The greater exposure and publicity also help retain and attract talented employees and management. The value of a company is also higher compared to when it’s private. This is because increased levels of liquidity and transparency are more attractive to investors, who will allocate a higher multiple for the company’s value. The biggest downfall to a company issuing stock to the public is greater scrutiny from investors, as all financial records are made public. This comes in the form of an increase in legal and marketing costs, plus time spent with analysts and other investors explaining the inner workings of the company.