Advancing its connections to global investors: why Alphawave IP listed in London

Founded in 2017, Alphawave IP provides designs for microchips that enable data to travel faster and more reliably, using lower power. Its customer base includes many of the world’s largest technology companies. As a leading global supplier of silicon IP, this fast-growing Canadian company had many options on the table about where to launch its IPO. But its decision was swift.

With a strong heritage and ecosystem in semiconductors, coupled with deep investor understanding and support of its business model, London was the obvious venue for Alphawave IP. The IPO will provide this ambitious DeepTech company with the platform not just to raise capital but also to recruit and retain top engineering talent and expand its customer base.

Q&A

with John Lofton Holt, Executive Chairman, Alphawave IP and Tony Pialis, President & Chief Executive Officer, Alphawave IP

Alphawave IP is just four years old. Why did you decide to hold an IPO now?

John Lofton Holt

It may sound like a relatively short journey, but for the founders it’s been a 25 year one. We have been focused on this space for more than two decades across multiple companies. When Tony and I founded this company, we set out to do something bigger than anything we'd ever done before. The growth we've seen in this business is unprecedented but it’s that experience that has propelled us so quickly. Alphawave IP’s technology has revolutionised the way computer chips communicate.

Tony Pialis

Our goal was five years to IPO. Like most things we do, we pulled it forward a year!

Why did you choose an IPO rather than raise capital on the private markets?

Tony Pialis

We are the world leader and we are ahead of our competition by years. Not only do we want to maintain that, we want to extend that leadership – which requires capital.

We have huge customers who are betting multi-billion-dollar chip projects on our technology. It’s one thing to say to them that we are a privately-owned Canadian company; it's very different to say that we are a public company, listed on London Stock Exchange and one of the world's biggest IP companies.

Another strong reason is that attracting and retaining talent is so much easier for a public company than a private one.

Alphawave IP started as a Canadian company and has grown successfully out of Toronto. Why did you choose to list in London?

John Lofton Holt

This was the subject of a spirited but short debate.

If you’re an entrepreneur and grow up in business, you dream of ringing the bell at New York Stock Exchange. But we took the emotion out of our decision. We looked at Toronto and New York and we made the decision on London very quickly.

Our business is silicon IP. Both the industry and the business model were born in the UK. Great British companies like ARM and Imagination were formed and have scaled and listed in the UK. Investors recognise that.  We have met hundreds of investors on our roadshow and about half have been British investors. BlackRock and Janus Henderson have come in as cornerstone investors. The cornerstone process is a fantastic one that we could not have done by listing elsewhere; it provides a lot of validation to the wider investor market and is reflected in the global capital flows that have been attracted to our listing.

Tony Pialis

We are a global company with customers in North America, EMEA and Asia and we have been very successful in building that customer base from Canada. Moving forward, London is the perfect location to expand that customer base.

We are establishing our corporate headquarters in London but we will maintain and continue to grow our Toronto R&D capabilities and establish our new R&D headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

We have scaled from zero to 97 employees and have a great track record of attracting and retaining talent. We're scaling as quickly as possible and we're doing it in all of the regions that have the talent that allows us to scale. The UK offers a great place to expand globally and Cambridge has an unparalleled market for talent in our space.

What are your growth plans and how will the IPO support them?

John Lofton Holt

We are continuing to scale up, not just to maintain our market leadership but to extend it. We are expanding our footprint in Asia and we are expanding the types of solutions that we offer.

Our greatest resource is our people and as we expand into new products, we need to build up our workforce of world leading semiconductor engineers. The IPO will accelerate and broaden the work that we do, giving our engineers the incentive of even more exciting work.

Our employees are excited about owning shares in a privately held company but they are ecstatic about owning shares in a fast-growing publicly traded company. It gives us a more measurable equity value for our employees, which further helps our ability to retain and recruit.

We have never had a dual-class share structure. Tony and I have wanted everyone to be treated the same in each company that we have been involved in as founders. We are all in this together. The founders, our first employees and our future employees – and now our investors – have a common alignment of interest. From a governance perspective, our investors have been thrilled about this decision.

Tony Pialis

I deal with customers every day. The IPO is hugely beneficial. Since we've announced our intention to float, our customers have all reached out to congratulate us. And these are top-tier semiconductor companies. It gives them reassurance, lowers their perceived risk and raises our profile – it’s a huge help to our business and its next stages of growth.

What is your advice to other international tech companies thinking of listing in London?

John Lofton Holt

Really look at your options and don’t let emotions get in the way. The bar to listing in London is very high and we are proud of achieving that bar. When you get to list in London, you are viewed as a very high-quality investment – just look at the investors we have been able to attract.

Tony Pialis

I have learned that each listing venue has its own strengths and the strength that I appreciate most about London Stock Exchange is its global attraction to investors, analysts and our overall customer base. For any company that's interested in servicing global markets, London Stock Exchange is the perfect fit.

Tech in London 

Murray Roos, Group Head, Capital Markets, LSEG

We are proud to welcome Alphawave IP, a global leader in silicon IP, to the standard segment of the Main Market. By listing in London and using part of the proceeds to open a research centre in Cambridge, UK, Alphawave IP demonstrates the many unique advantages of London’s public markets for ambitious DeepTech companies. An IPO in London enables them to access knowledgeable investors and deep pools of international capital, raise their global profile, recruit high-quality talent and continue to scale at pace.

High-growth tech and consumer internet companies accounted for 40% of the capital raised on London’s markets in 2020. The momentum is continuing in 2021.

Contact us

Charlie Walker

Head of  London Stock Exchange Equity Primary Markets

Neil Shah

Senior Business Development Manager, Technology Sector Specialist

Marcus Stuttard

Head of UK Primary Markets & AIM, London Stock Exchange

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