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Direct Public Offering (DPO)

Definition: A situation in which a company sells its shares directly to the public without the help of underwriters

Direct public offerings (DPOs) allow you to sell stock directly to the public without the registration and reporting requirements of an initial public offering. DPOs are specifically designed to let small businesses access the public capital markets with less cost and complexity than is involved in IPOs.

DPOs typically raise amounts of less than $1 million, but you can raise up to $25 million with a DPO under certain circumstances. You can also advertise and promote the sale of your own stock if you hold a DPO, something other public companies are forbidden to do.

DPOs' main limitation is the lack of a secondary market for securities. That means the stock of a DPO company is illiquid, meaning the ability of shareholders to sell shares on the open market is limited and they may have difficulty finding buyers for their shares in the event they want to sell. That's not necessarily bad for you, but it can be a deterrent to investors.