An initial public offering (IPO) refers to a transaction whereby a private company raises investment capital by selling shares to the public through an investment banking firm. Investment bankers generally represent private companies who can generate meaningful institutional and/or retail interest in their offering so a commission can be earned. Small to medium size private companies without strong financial results or consumer awareness find it impossible to retain the services of reputable investment banking firms. As a result, the vast majority of private companies elect to go public and raise money by completing a direct public offering (DPO). In direct public offerings, the company itself raises money (usually through friends, family, employees, customer, suppliers, etc.) and an investment banking firm is not required. While some companies prefer to hold out for an initial public offering most companies can benefit by completing a direct public offering which can be completed at anytime.