The IPO Playbook: An Insider's Perspective on Taking Your Company Public and How to Do It Right

by Steve Cakebread

"Entrepreneurs who envision going public will find value on every page."

—Kirkus Reviews

“Steve Cakebread knows the capital markets like few others.”

—Stacy Cunningham, president, New York Stock Exchange

"The ultimate guide to taking a company public."

—Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO, Salesforce

The IPO Playbook

An insider's perspective of what it takes to prepare for a successful initial public offering.

From the CFO who brought Salesforce, Pandora, and Yext public, The IPO Playbook delivers an insider’s perspective of what it takes to prepare for a successful initial public offering.

Author Steve Cakebread walks readers through the ins and outs of taking your company public, from how to make the decision to do an IPO, to timing, preparation and execution, including building the right internal team and selecting external partners.

The book is both an invaluable reference guide and an enjoyable read that incorporates stories from Steve's time creating three successful IPOs, and his earlier career at Autodesk, Silicon Graphics and Hewlett Packard.

The IPO Playbook has received endorsements from the President of the New York Stock Exchange, Stacey Cunningham, Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff, Yext CEO Howard Lerman, CEO René Lacerte, CEO,, SolarWinds President and CEO Kevin Thompson, Stanford University Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities Executive Director Michael Steep, and Salesforce President and CFO Mark Hawkins, and Yext Senior Vice President Dominic Paschel.

What people say about it

It’s hard to imagine anyone with more experience going public than Steve. His advice for the entire process—from choosing bankers, to directing a very productive roadshow, to pricing and selecting investors—was perfect. Steve helped me and the entire team have an amazing experience. Ultimately, following his advice is the best advice I can give anyone.

—René Lacerte, CEO,

Going public is a major endeavor for any company, and Steve Cakebread’s The IPO Playbook provides a valuable perspective on what it takes to do it right. Steve knows first-hand the many challenges and rewards of going through this process and details step-by-step what is involved in setting a company on the path that creates value for all stakeholders—shareholders, customers, employees, partners, and the community.”

Mark Hawkins, president and CFO, Salesforce

The IPO Playbook is essential reading for anyone contemplating a public offering. Pulling from the expertise he gained from leading three successful IPOs, Steve Cakebread lays out how to build teams and set policies, procedures, and controls that support not just a successful public offering but the company’s continued growth.

—Kevin Thompson, president and CEO, SolarWinds

Steve Cakebread’s The IPO Playbook is a real game-changer for corporate executives interested in creating credibility in the market through an IPO. Steve has transformed disruptive technology business models into monetization opportunities—first with the IPO at Salesforce, then at Pandora, and now as the CFO of a hot startup, Yext. In The IPO Playbook, Steve shares practical examples of the IPO process from start to finish and, at the same time, demonstrates the significant advantages not just in securing capital to fund growth but also in attracting key talent who will help lead that growth.

Michael J.T. Steep, founder and executive director, Disruptive Technologies and Digital Cities Program at Stanford University, author of First Light of Day

About the Author

Steve Cakebread

A recognized expert in preparing for IPOs, Steve Cakebread led the financial teams that took Yext, Pandora, and Salesforce to successful initial public offerings (IPOs). He serves on the board of, which went public in December 2019, and sat on the boards of SolarWinds, and Ehealth, as they made their initial public offerings. Earlier in his career, Steve served as CFO for Autodesk, vice president of finance for Silicon Graphic (now SGI), a director of finance for Hewlett-Packard. Steve earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MBA with a focus on international finance from Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Steve Cakebread