back to article Raspberry Pi on IPO plans: 'We want to be ready when the markets are ready'

The Raspberry Pi company is again preparing the ground for an initial public offering (IPO), appointing bankers Peel Hunt and Jefferies ahead of a planned listing on the London Stock Exchange. CEO Eben Upton told The Register that the organization was still early in the process: "We want to be ready when the markets are ready …

  1. Pirate Peter
    Thumb Down

    And what could possibly go wrong

    what could possibly go wrong once you have to keep share holders on side :(

    surely the dividends the shareholders get paid would be better used for R&D, educational support etc

    Keep the Pi as not for profit as it currently is

    1. Dickie Mosfet

      Re: And what could possibly go wrong

      "We've always tried to run a business that does interesting work and makes money, and I don't think those imperatives are going to change. We will keep doing the same stuff. Certainly while I'm in charge."

      So why go down the IPO route at all? If Eben Upton wants to keep doing the same stuff, just keep doing the same stuff.

      If the company floats, and a huge American/Japanese company vacuums up 40% of the shares and demands multiple seats on the board of directors, Eben won't have much of a say anymore.

      1. cipnt

        Re: And what could possibly go wrong

        An IPO would raise capital for further investment and potentially diversification of the product lineup.

        Though I would be inclined to think that, considering how loyal and supportive the RPi user base is, similar capital could be raised through some form of crowdfunding.

        I know I would pitch in or prepay for the RPi6 a year or two before its launch in order to support its development.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And what could possibly go wrong

      Keep the Pi as not for profit as it currently is

      It has not been "not for profit" for a very long time. I am amazed they've managed to keep the myth going that it is for so long.

      1. cipnt

        Re: Not for profit

        The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK company limited by *guarantee* and a *charity* registered in England and Wales with number 1129409

        The Raspberry Pi LTD (Company number 08207441) is a private company limited by *shares* with the main shareholder (>75%) being The Raspberry Pi Foundation

        This info is publicly available in the Companies House registry

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    So long and thanks for all the fish

    It's going to suck when Raspberry Pi turns to crap chasing the dollar for shareholders instead of focusing on tech and innovation.

    This is about the worst thing that could happen to them.

    Where's that article on enshittification again?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: So long and thanks for all the fish

      Let's brainstorm!

      Subscriptions to run RPi?

      Only for personal use and separate pricing for business?

      Only run specifically tailored and locked down distribution of Linux "for safety and convenience"?

      Open source only for corporate clients?

      Telemetry?

      More evil product segmentation? (cheapest one without Ethernet, more expensive with Ethernet but without WiFi, most loaded with peripherals only with 2GB RAM, custom specs only for corporate clients)

      Enable GPU for additional fee

      add more ideas!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: So long and thanks for all the fish

        1000s of Aliexpress clones that are close enough to run the Linux upstream builds and have the hats fit

        In the same way that you can buy "Arduinos" for 1/10 the cost of Arduinos

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: So long and thanks for all the fish

          Yeah, I love all the R&D and innovation that Aliexpress does.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: So long and thanks for all the fish

            RPi $MegaCorp$ - takes Broadcom chip sticks it on board and can charge $$$ cos schools are going to buy it.

            1000 Chinese assemblers, take Broadcom chip, or other similar ARM soc, stick it on a board and charge $

            If you want innovation and R&D buy IBM

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So long and thanks for all the fish

              That's got to be the most idiotic comment I've seen today, must have taken a lot of effort, well done.

  3. DoContra
    Alert

    Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

    For all the flak Raspberry Pi has gotten thanks to its relative hardware value and scalping/shortages during the pandemic, I always felt the value was always on the documentation and software support: actual documentation, properly updated, mostly compatible with the parent distro Official OS image, open source hardware/IO access libraries. Bit of a shame about the GPU situation but overall understandable/forgivable. They are by no means perfect (nothing is), and I understand the criticisms about focusing on embedded/industrial clients to the detriment of the thinker community and even the armbian project being pretty salty about no "upstream" Pi support, even if I find them largely overblown.

    (Note: Never bought one nor similar products -- my interests starts and mostly ends on spinning-rust NAS oriented boards :) -- but used/fiddled with most full-fat Pi variants at work).

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

      "I understand the criticisms about focusing on embedded/industrial clients to the detriment of the thinker community"

      Well what we don't see is the complaints from people who wouldn't have been able to purchase whatever devices were built with those industrial pis (or things they then produced)

      1. ldo

        Re: industrial pis

        This is why I like to write "π”, as in “industrial πs”. Less chance of an, um, unfortunate misreading ...

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

      The problem about supplying industrial customers during the supply chain problems was explained and the explanation was totally reasonable.

      The whingers generally put their own need to have a tinker toy above the need of companies to stay in business and employ people to pay their bills and eat.

      The end of 2023 since Pi 5 launch, the vast majority of production of Pi 5 was reserved for one per person personal purchases and still got instantly sucked into the demand vacuum.

      Seventy thousand Pi 5 per week.

      Anyway, with all the best intentions, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the end of Raspberry Pi long term if it becomes a traded company. But in the short term the money raised from investment might allow some exciting new versions for a final flurry.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

        Industrial companies a bit like miners snatching the GPU of the sad gamer hands.

        Let's not pretend that there are no off the shelf industrial computers capable of whatever it is needed for them to do.

        It's just typically industrial companies gone lazy and chased extra profit.

        Why hire embedded engineer(s), find board matching the requirements and let them write the firmware that is needed.

        Noooo, let's buy all RPis, get a nephew to cobble together something that works for 7-days at Butlin's and a gift card, get Karen to do the presentation to the board and pay yourself a nice fat bonus.

        In my opinion, seems like RPi simply lacks vision, rode on the backs of "tinkerers" and then threw them under a bus chasing more profit.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

          And that's why you only run BSD and not that Linux stuff where most of the commits come from $EVIL$ $CORPORATION$

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

          Profit allows them to reinvest and create more toys for the tinkerers when the situation improves.

          I still can’t believe people want to prioritise their play toys over people’s livelihoods.

          I’m fucking sick of self entitlement and “all about me” whingers and whiners.

          Thank fuck Rapsberry Pi ignored the brats and did the right thing.

          1. Falmari Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

            @werdsmith "Thank fuck Rapsberry Pi ignored the brats and did the right thing."

            Who's to say what the right thing is or was?

            Raspberry Pi Ltd is a subsidiary* of the Raspberry Pi Foundation a charity who's aim is to "promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at the school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing". It could be argued that prioritising play toys (fun) better aligns with Raspberry Pi Foundation's mission than prioritising supply to industrial customers.

            When it comes to profit it does not matter who they prioritised supply to they would still have sold all they could produce. Assuming Pi charge all customers the same price per unit** then same profit. While some profit is reinvested in the company the main purpose of profit is funding for the Foundation.

            *https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08207441/persons-with-significant-control

            **In reality business customers probably pay less per unit due to bulk buying.

            1. cantankerous swineherd

              Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

              oh dear, looks like a referral to the charity commissioners then.

              1. Falmari Silver badge

                Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

                @cantankerous swineherd "oh dear, looks like a referral to the charity commissioners then."

                I don't see why. The Foundation must have agreed to the IPO as controlling shareholders it would require the approval of the Foundations Board of Trustees who are not on the board of Raspberry Pi Ltd.

                The Foundation have sold shares in the Ltd before without there being an issue Arm has a minority holding, The IPO is really no different, the sale of the shares offered will reduce the Foundations share of the Ltd and the Foundation will receive the proceeds from the sale.

                I think charities are permitted to sell shares they own, whether it is a good idea for Raspberry Pi Foundation to sell its shares in the Ltd I couldn't say.

              2. Colin Bull 1
                Unhappy

                Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

                'oh dear, looks like a referral to the charity commissioners then.

                They are a waste of space like Ofcom. They will ask if you have complained to the charity trustees and what response you got. If you like pi$$ing in the wind, go ahead.

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

              When it comes to profit it does not matter who they prioritised supply to they would still have sold all they could produce

              In the short term during the pandemic. But when supply is back to normal, the continued support of the industrial users boosts volumes. RPi didn't want those companies going to the wall.

        3. Tommy G1

          Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

          Industrial companies a bit like miners snatching the GPU of the sad gamer hands.

          I'm an 'industrial customer'. We're a small (<20 employees) UK company supplying medical software with some associated hardware to the NHS. Our solution plays a key part in research improving outcomes for patients.

          Let's not pretend that there are no off the shelf industrial computers capable of whatever it is needed for them to do.

          I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you haven't spent years developing a hardware solution, gone through multiple revisions of the hardware, designed an enclosure and (this is the BIG one) gotten the whole thing certified for use.

          A lot of 'industrial customers' put a lot of trust into Raspberry Pi to be a dependable supplier who provide a stable product with a decent shelf life. They did their best to deliver on this.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Here's hoping the IPO doesn´t ruin the community and support

      > the value was always on the documentation and software support: actual documentation, properly updated, mostly compatible with the parent distro Official OS image, open source hardware/IO access libraries

      That'll probably be the first under the bus when the cost-cutting starts to maximize shareholder profits. Before or after they start laying off engineers to show they're focused on quarterly results.

  4. Tim99 Silver badge
    Linux

    Pi 4 vs 5

    Perhaps the user base is splitting as well as expanding? Maybe an IP will cause further splitting, and marginalisation of (the volunteer) support? Pi's up to 5 seem mainly to be used in "projects", dedicated server type systems, and hardware controllers. As a desktop the 4 was "adequate". The 5 seems to be aimed more at desktop users (I have found the performance and functionality quite acceptable, but it needs additional [fan] cooling and the 27W power supply).

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Pi 4 vs 5

      I think you're right about the user base splitting. The Pi5 is quite a step up, I've not bought one yet as I haven't thought of anything it could be needed for other than as a general purpose desktop and I've a bunch of old laptops for that.

      I'm using a 8gig-Pi4 to play about with VMs with the plan to replace a couple of older models doing half a dozen background tasks (DHCP etc). and the VMs are purely because they let me try things without needing to toddle over to the cupboard they're keeping mildly warm.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Pi 4 vs 5

      With RPi5 you can build proper AI driven cat flap.

      1. Dickie Mosfet
        Joke

        Re: Pi 4 vs 5

        Dave Bowman: "HAL, open the cat flap door."

        HAL9000: "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

    3. TheRealRoland

      Re: Pi 4 vs 5

      I got it running Handbrake, an external cd drive, the red/white housing with fan, but using a 3A power supply. I had to disable the switch to not limit the current to the USB ports and the thing runs like a champ :-)

      Currenty ripping my Blakes 7 set - alongside a iMac from 2007. The thing converts twice as many fps as the iMac :D

      Gonna see what a Pi4 does, over the weekend, perhaps.

      1. TheRealRoland
        Terminator

        Re: Pi 4 vs 5

        While i could run some of this stuff combined - i have Pi4s running NextPVR, OpenMediaVault and some plane trackers. Another one runs Moode / is used for tinkering; and a Pi3b waiting for some repurposing. I have a telescope and goto-mount that i can attach this to, to control it remotely :D

        The pandemic, you know...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. ldo

        Re: Handbrake

        I thought Handbrake was a GUI wrapper around FFmpeg, but no, it seems to have its own fork of the FFmpeg libraries. And it’s only a partial fork. So you don’t get all the functionality that FFmpeg offers.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Pi 4 vs 5

      For me the big step up is the RPi 4 because the USB-2.0 bus is very slow for data transfer. I mainly use the RPi for Kodi and have consistently had playback problems that are almost entirely down to bandwidth: h264 performance itself was fine on the RPi1 but I've had problems with audio and synchronisation on every generation until the RPi4. I realise this is a trivial example but I can imagine similar problems in other projects with a lot of data transfer. For embedded stuff with little or no data or network activity, the older ones are fine.

      1. TheRealRoland
        Thumb Up

        Re: Pi 4 vs 5

        For me, the biggest issue I had with audio/video sync is that the original dvd was copied using variable framerate. Once i set the extraction to constant frame rate, that problem went away. The out-of-syncness happened on all mediaplayers, so i know it was not a system / infra issue.

        I'm just running into limited bandwidth now. Am using those power internet adapters for some of the streaming devices - they work, but sometimes the network in the home gets crowded.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Pi 4 vs 5

          That's interesting point and I'll admit to not having bothered to do enough research to get all the details, but biggest problems have always been with iPlayer TS -> MP4, which is really just a different container. I might take the time to compare TS, MP4 (reencoded, VBR), MP4 (CBR). But, OTOH, the greater bandwidth is noticeable for all library operations.

          1. TheRealRoland
            Devil

            Re: Pi 4 vs 5

            The only reason i started looking into this is that i installed a couple of Roku devices. And it turned out that the Roku Media Player is very limited in what it can play when streaming. Sure, i can install a media server like Kodi onto the tv directly, but then I'd have to do that on every tv i want to watch stuff. So, i thought, Media Servers allow uPnP. Well the Roku played some more stuff than before, but now i would not be able to fast forward :D

            So i remuxed MP4 into MKV. Fast Forwarding works, but now Roku doesn't show the subtitles. Apparently not possible at all w Roku and MKV.

            Sigh :D

  5. Timto

    memberries

    Remember when Java was taken over by Oracle and they trashed everything for money? I 'member

    1. Plest Silver badge

      Re: memberries

      "Pepperidge Farm remembers."

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: memberries

        >Remember when Java was taken over by Oracle and they trashed everything for money?

        Yes but Oracle have also done a lot of bad things

        1. cantankerous swineherd

          Re: memberries

          lol, harsh but fair.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: memberries

      I think it's possible to think that Sun trashed Java and a takeover by someone like Oracle was inevitable, once Java had become "essential" for some companies. I'm not thinking necessarily that McNealy didn't maximise returns for shareholders, it's arguable he did because companies kept buying Sun hardware to run Java, but stewardship was a real problem. Going either fully commercial or transferring the language to a foundation would have removed a lot of uncertainty for many.

      Since Oracle's takeover it's at least clearer for companies what they're facing, especially since IBM bought RedHat and thus JBoss the biggest alternative runtime, which RedHat had already locked down. This has also made it easier for companies to consider alternatives, as they also did with databases: there's no doubt that Oracle's purchase of MySQL via the Sun acquisition was the best thing that ever happened to Postgres.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: memberries

        You're only looking at Java from a commercial perspective.

  6. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Avarice

    The Raspberry Pi foundation doesn't need this and I see this merely as a money grab by some people high up the tree (here's looking at you Upton).

    Sure, they can come up with all sorts of excuses why this is a good idea, but in the end it will simply lead to shareholders being put before users and customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avarice

      Given the obvious value in the "Raspberry Pi" branding it is quite surprising the foundation handed that trademark IP, perhaps their most valuable asset, to Raspberry Pi Limited for free.

      If i worked for the foundation I would be asking why they had done that. If I worked for the charity commission I would be asking the same.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Avarice

        I suppose Upton took a clue from how Mozilla did the same thing with Firefox. Split off all the IP into a commercial arm and funnel all the money there. Then imagine yourself being a CEO of a billion dollar company and give yourself commensurate compensation.

  7. TimMaher Silver badge
    Angel

    Just to be selfish.

    If it goes IPO in London, maybe on the junior market, I’ll buy some.

    Then get out when the takeover happens.

    Just as with Arm.

    Paid well.

  8. cantankerous swineherd

    ceo will be replaced immediately after the ipo, if not before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That would be the dumbest move ever. Staff would basically leave en-mass.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        And hopefully start a new independent venture around RISC V.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Raspberry Pi abandons ARM and moves to RISC V* all machines now £0.02 cheaper!

          *No compatibility with existing software, and 50% reduction in performance.

  9. xylifyx

    Stick / stuck with ARM

    I understand that if you want to do more than stick a capable SOC on a print board and produce it in volumes, it requires investments. However if you strategy is more aligned with the share holders and keeping the price of your stocks high and not aligned with the needs of your customers and the future you believe in, trouble will be ahead. Also shareholders may have agendas, will you be able to build RISC-V boards with custom extension when ARM is a shareholder?

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Stick / stuck with ARM

      Why would they want to move from ARM? RISC V chips are not any cheaper as the discounts from Broadcom's volume production dwarf any notional avoidance of licencing costs. Comparable RISC V chips are currently (and are likely to remain) way behind ARM in performance, both absolute and per watt. Plus starting a new completely incompatible software ecosystem would be a huge amount of effort for no benefit.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Stick / stuck with ARM

        ....and somebody is going to develop the cores and SoC and they will want paying.

  10. BartyFartsLast

    Well that's gonna suck.

    Honestly hoping and wishing that doesn't happen, I can't see how the company will remain the same if it does.

  11. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Reasons for an IPO

    Going public is usually a signal that top investors and others with lots of private stock want to cash out. Second on the list is when a company has a product they need to ramp faster than they have the budget to do and Vulture Capital money is too dear. Beyond that, the reasons get nebulous such as needing a lot more distance between the C-Level and product liability lawsuits such as if you want to supply aspirin to hospitals. The cost to the company to be publicly traded is huge. It's a whole full time office of people that just do the required paperwork and file the required forms at the proper time.

    I'm not hopeful that good things will happen with RP being publicly traded. Maximizing value for the share holder and adding parasitic cost to the product will only make room for the next product to take its place for half the price and twice the community support.

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