With the market for initial public offerings all but dead this year and the likelihood of down rounds looming, startup employees have been racing to cash out of their shares. In theory, secondary markets dealing in private companies’ stock should give people a way to do that. There’s just one problem: Someone has to be willing to buy.
The prices that some of the most richly valued private companies can fetch have already plunged, with Stripe and Klarna shares changing hands at prices roughly 40% lower than at the start of the year, according to data shared with The Information by ApeVue. The New York–based financial startup aggregates price data from sources including recent fundraising rounds and secondary market bids, offers and sale prices. Trading activity has also been slowing as fresh would-be sellers flood the market and spreads between the price they want for their shares and what buyers are willing to pay continue to widen, according to brokers and investors. In the first quarter of this year, secondary market broker Forge processed 596 trades, down 61% from the same period in 2021.