Raspberry Pi has confirmed it plans an Initial Public Offering (IPO), which will take it from a private to publicly-held company and allow anyone to purchase shares in the firm, with a listing on the London Stock Exchange.
Raspberry Pi's chief executive officer and co-founder Eben Upton first confirmed the hardening of the company's plans in an interview with Bloomberg, confirming that the London Stock Exchange — relatively local to the company's Cambridge home — was chosen over US-based alternatives like the Nasdaq. "Having spent time meeting fund managers in New York," he told the site, "I have come to the conclusion that there’s no compelling reason to think London-listed firms can’t access American money."
An IPO sees a privately-held firm issue stock for listing on a publicly-traded stock exchange, allowing anybody to purchase shares — and, in turn, providing an influx of cash to the company. It can also be a risky move: a public listing means a broad and largely uncontrollable swathe of shareholders, while an overestimation of a company's worth can mean the value of early-stage investors' shares plummet if the general market disagrees with a valuation.
Upton has not revealed precise details of the flotation plan, nor the valuation being sought — though Arm's minority share valued the firm at around $500 million. Money from the flotation would, Upton says, allow the Raspberry Pi Foundation — the not-for-profit side of the business, which handles the promotion and delivery of educational programs around the world — to at least double in size.
The move for a public flotation comes nearly a year after Sony privately invested in the firm, with a view toward "bringing Sony Semiconductor Solutions' line of AI products to the Raspberry Pi ecosystem," according to Upton at the time, and three months after Arm — which provides the CPU core IP in the Broadcom systems-on-chips at the heart of all Raspberry Pi hardware — bought its own "minority stake." Neither company has announced plans to sell its own stake as part of the IPO.
The move has caused a stir in the maker community, already reeling from years-long though rapidly-resolving stock shortages and Raspberry Pi's decision to focus the majority of production on stock for its industrial customers, with concerns that it may mean a drive to increase profit at all costs and move away from the cost-conscious and low-volume individual maker as a customer.
Upton, though, says otherwise, telling Ars Technica in an interview that "while I'm involved in [Raspberry Pi], I can't imagine an environment in which the hobbyists are not going to be incredibly important."