An IPO Milestone: Wilson Sonsini Partners With Workiva to Automate the S-1 for Companies Going Public
September 20, 2021
Automatically Generated “WS-1” Form Benefits Pre-IPO Companies by Eliminating Low-Value Work From the Drafting Process; Wilson Sonsini Takes an Important First Step as the Firm Aims to Automate Key Portions of the IPO Process.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which has advised more U.S. technology companies on their initial public offerings than any other law firm, today announced that it has partnered with Workiva Inc. (NYSE: WK)—which simplifies complex work for thousands of organizations worldwide—to automate one of the most arduous tasks facing companies going public: generating the registration statement, also known as “SEC Form S-1,” or simply “S-1.” Wilson Sonsini’s bold move represents a significant step toward the firm’s ultimate objective of leveraging technology to automate key portions of the entire IPO process.
The new automated application, called “WS-1,” substantially reduces inefficiencies involved in preparing the S-1. Clients can collaborate with Wilson Sonsini’s corporate attorneys using the WS-1 solution to produce an advanced draft S-1 that would reflect the latest substantive insights from attorneys and serve as a single, centralized, and consistent source for key legal points and company data needed for the IPO.
According to estimates, drafting a registration statement can require more than 950 hours. By leveraging Workiva’s open, intelligent, and intuitive platform to create the WS-1, Wilson Sonsini substantially reduces the time needed to prepare IPO registration statements—time that instead can be applied to the higher-value and important aspects of S-1 work.
“Many of our clients are digitizing in their fields, and now we’re doing the same in ours, with enormous benefits,” said Michael Nordtvedt, a corporate partner at Wilson Sonsini who heads the firm’s capital markets practice. “This solution addresses some of the biggest pain points for companies going through the IPO process.”
“With the WS-1, Wilson Sonsini and Workiva have created an extraordinarily powerful application of the Workiva platform,” said Brandon Ziegler, the chief legal officer of Workiva. “Among many other benefits, it facilitates collaboration among the many internal and external stakeholders that give input on an S-1.”
The WS-1 is the most complex automation project ever tackled by Wilson Sonsini, with millions of permutations. Wilson Sonsini began developing the WS-1 more than a year ago in collaboration with Workiva, the SEC compliance platform of choice for public companies. To date, the WS-1 has been used in two pilot IPO projects, introducing dramatic efficiencies into the process. In addition to its WS-1 effort, Wilson Sonsini has undertaken other automation efforts aimed at helping start-ups, pre-IPO companies, and public company clients with specific business transactions and functions, as well as ongoing corporate governance and compliance.
“The WS-1 is a groundbreaking tool for registration statements that integrates the peerless legal knowledge of Wilson Sonsini with the Workiva platform,” said David Wang, Wilson Sonsini’s chief innovation officer. “It extends the automation benefits that Workiva offers to public companies to the very start of the preparation process, where they are sorely needed.”
The development of the WS-1 continues a tradition of pioneering work on IPOs by Wilson Sonsini, which consistently ranks among the top law firms in taking technology and life sciences companies public. To date in 2021, the firm has advised on 30 IPOs generating a collective value of $30 billion, including Roblox’s $9 billion direct listing.
With the introduction of the WS-1, Wilson Sonsini adds another component to its growing technology ecosystem, which includes Neuron, a digital platform on which start-up companies can manage legal processes from formation to exit; SixFifty, its award-winning subsidiary that productizes legal knowledge such as employee handbooks and privacy compliance; Shareworks by Morgan Stanley, a capitalization and stock plan platform; and Lexion, AI-powered contract management software that Wilson Sonsini invested in, along with Khosla Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, and AI2.
The collaboration between Wilson Sonsini and Workiva is being presented at the Workiva Amplify annual conference, which opens today and takes place virtually through September 23, 2021. Nordtvedt, Wang, and Ziegler will discuss the project at a session titled “Know What’s Trending: Trends in Tech and Transactions from Wilson Sonsini.”