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Share Sale Saga

12 Dec 2014 By Jeffrey Goldfarb

Goldman Sachs has updated IPOs for the Candy Crush era. Bosses of firms heading for public markets are hooked on the bank’s app, which lets them track book-building in real time. With Apple and IBM coding mobile software for big companies, the smartphone economy is swiftly moving from the living room to the boardroom.

Raising money in an initial public offering can be tedious. Chief executives must give a mind-numbing series of back-to-back presentations to potential investors. After each meeting, chaperoned by banks underwriting the new shares, buyers indicate how many they want and at what price.

To see faster how each pitch went down, and maybe fine-tune the next one, Goldman quietly produced an app last year. Executives can see the information as it rolls in, and slice and dice it. That holds particular appeal to a younger set of entrepreneurs with shorter attention spans and used to having data analytics at their fingertips.

This probably only helped at the margins – after all, who would hire an investment bank simply because of an app? Goldman nevertheless ranked fourth in tech IPOs in 2012, the last full year before it introduced Deal Insight. It moved up to second last year, behind only Morgan Stanley. After working on new issues such as LendingClub, Zendesk and Coupons.com, Goldman is jockeying for first with its arch-rival in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters figures.

Others in finance are also adapting. Buyout firm KKR, for one, launched an app earlier this year that keeps investors in its funds up-to-date on performance and deal terms. Deutsche Bank and some of its peers offer fund managers research by app.

Apple and IBM also have together just started to roll out professional software for phones and tablets. One helps Air Canada pilots use iPads to determine how much fuel to load. Another lets Sprint technicians find the fastest routes to customers. The new generation of financial and corporate apps might just reclaim some of the productivity lost to Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds.


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