Maybe tech unicorns Uber and Airbnb should consider staying private.
"It's not cool to go public, but that isn't our problem," said long-time Cisco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers in a podcast interview with TheStreet. "Our problem is that if you go public, you have reporting mechanisms that have been designed for companies that have been in business for 20 or 30 years."
Upstart companies with big dreams could be sharing Chambers' views.
There were 51 IPOs in the first quarter according to FactSet data, down from 31% in the fourth quarter. Quarterly IPO activity has stayed stuck in a range of 10 to 51 from the first quarter of 2016 until the first quarter of 2018. The peak in quarterly IPO activity came in the third quarter of 2014 when 91 companies went public.
"It's so difficult to go public that some of the startups are thinking about two classes of stock again because they are liable to get disrupted by so-called activists that will help them run their company by dramatically cutting expenses in the short-term that kill the company in the long-term," Chambers said. "You look at all this overhead, all this bureacracy, and companies are saying why do I want to go public."
The always energetic Chambers, 68, is now leading a venture capital firm (backed by his own money) he founded called JC 2. Along with his son John (who had marketing stints at Houzz, Netflix (NFLX) and Walmart's (WMT) e-commerce business) and long-time communications director Shannon Pina, JC 2 is investing in early stage companies ranging from a drone maker to a food company that hawks cricket-made snacks.