Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

The Supercharged IPO

First Page



A new innovation on the IPO landscape has emerged in the last two decades, allowing owner-founders to extract billions of dollars from newly public companies. These IPOs-labeled supercharged IPOs-have been the subject of widespread debate and controversy: lawyers, financial experts, journalists, and members of Congress have all weighed in on the topic. Some have argued that supercharged IPOs are "brilliant, just brilliant," while others have labeled them "underhanded" and "bizarre."

In this Article, we explore the supercharged IPO and explain how and why this new deal structure differs from the more traditional IPO. We then outline various theories of financial innovation and note that the extant literature provides useful explanations for why supercharged IPOs emerged and spread so quickly across industries and geographic areas. Theory provides support for both legitimate and opportunistic uses of the supercharged IPO.