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The act or process of a company selling stock in itself when it moves from private ownership to public trade. More generally, it refers to the actual first sale of stock to the public. Small companies looking for a new source of financing often go public, but large companies who wish to be publicly traded can do so as well. Investing in a company that is going public is generally risky because one does not know how much demand will exist for the stock after its initial offering. This risk comes from the uncertainty of the stock's resale value. See also: Publicly-traded company.
The process by which a privately held company sells a portion of its ownership to the general public through a stock offering. Owners generally take their firms public because they need additional large sums of equity funding that they are unable or unwilling to contribute themselves.