2020 could be a big year for initial public offerings, the way 2019 was a catalyst for white-hot tech startups - until so many big-name IPOs were derailed by the WeWork offering catastrophe. 

But it's a new year, and there is a herd of new unicorns stampeding not just to public markets, but also toward profitability. Thinknum Alternative Data tracks some of the startups likely to weigh an IPO debut in 2020 - at least, if the window for these offerings can be pried back open anytime soon. 

Snowflake season? 

WeWork’s demise made many soon-to-IPO startups realize that prodigious scale and growth no longer translate to successful public launches. And so, they are adapting accordingly. Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake ($PRIVATE:SNOWFLAKE), a data warehousing cloud service provider, for one, is eager to show off his enterprise’s profitability as it heads into 2020. Slootman has confirmed that Snowflake is on track to IPO but has been hesitant to share a precise date.

Having raised close to $1 billion in funding since 2012, Snowflake saw enormous growth in the last year as it has quadrupled its customer count to 2,400, raised revenues by 237%, and doubled employee headcount - have a look at our LinkedIn ($MSFT) Employee Headcount chart, above. A six-month slicing shows Snowflake’s current workforce gracing the 1,600 threshold, signaling a 12% increase since mid-July.

Charting job postings reveals a similar trend. While the dataset shows an obvious gap in data, the uptick since November has been pronounced, suggesting its growth will continue to accelerate as it considers what to do now that 2020 is here.

Palantir will eventually get on the IPO track 

Palantir Technologies ($PRIVATE:PALANTIR) could make it to public markets - but it still isn’t clear when.  And recent rumblings suggest it won’t necessarily be climbing out of IPO limbo in 2020. In fact, the years 2022 was floated as a bit more likely. But, with a valuation rumored to have eclipsed the $40 billion mark - sooner or later, Palantir will have to start generating full returns for its backers. 

Data shows, while its workforce has remained steady at 2,500 strong since our last write-up, we see a dip developing on the job listings front—not too long ago a potential sign of IPO lead-up

After experiencing a steady incline in current job openings since April 2018, total job listings have shrunk from a high of 221 in October 2019 to 206 just two months later. That isn't to say this is a tremendous downshift - nor should its private backers, like the CIA's In-Q-Tel fund, or Peter Thiel, sweat it.

Postmates may deliver - the returns

Analysts had expected once expected food-delivery startup Postmates to join the IPO Class of 2019 but instead have seen it delay its S-1 drop due to “market conditions.” As a growth-focused company, 'conditions' are notably unkind for Postmates, especially considering the pessimism currently challenging consumer-facing delivery apps. Tracking job postings for each, we see a surge - followed by a big dip, to close out the year - seen in our chart below.

Developing a following on social media is one thing - but it's far more important to establish a following in the form of app store downloads, which we can track for Postmates and for its competitors. For Postmates, user ratings are looking good, and getting better - nearly 4-out-of-5, and rising to a two-year high. Still, as the snack wars scale up, there is one very unlikely competitor to all the big North American brands that are drawing far stronger engagement. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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