The year was 2007, and Blackstone was ready for its IPO. The price? $31 a share. The last U.S. private equity firm to price a public offering before the financial crisis hit saw its shares tumble over the next several years, putting a pall on IPOs for PE. It would take until the end of 2013 for Blackstone shares to rebound, and only now, the PE firm -- with climbing AUM hitting $272 billion -- is poised to keep expanding, if it can get some retail investors on board. With big check-outs from hotels including Hilton and LaQuinta Inns and Suites lined up via other IPOs, Blackstone could be a hit with all investors.