An IPO (initial public offering) is a way for a private company to go public and acquire a stock market listing. An IPO is when a company first issues shares and investors are offered the chance to buy shares at a set launch price. How many you can buy will depend on how popular they are. An IPO is very expensive, so the company may only extend the opportunity to institutional investors. Larger companies may make shares available to the public. The scope of an IPO is two-fold: 1) to raise cash for the company and 2) it will enable the founders and venture capitalists to sell some of their holdings for a profit.