Raspberry Pi Files Paperwork With The London Stock Exchange

If you’re a regular visitor to the Raspberry Pi website and you have a sharp eye, you may have noticed during the last few days a new link has appeared in their footer. Labelled “Investor relations“, it holds links to the documents filed with the London Stock Exchange of their intention to float. In other words, it’s confirmation of their upcoming share offering.

It has been interesting to watch the growth of Raspberry Pi over the last twelve years, from cottage industry producing a thousand boards in China, to dominating the SBC market and launching their own successful silicon. Without either a crystal ball or a window into Eben Upton’s mind, we’re as unreliable as anyone else when it comes to divining their future path. But since we’re guessing that it will involve ever more complex silicon with a raspberry logo, it’s obvious that the float will give them the investment springboard they need.

For those of us who have been around for a long time this isn’t the first company in our corner of the technology world we’ve seen burn brightly. It’s not even the first from Cambridge. Appointing ourselves as pundits though, we’d say that Raspberry Pi’s path to this point has been surprisingly understated, based upon the strength of its products rather than hype, and while Eben is undoubtedly a well-known figure, not based upon a cult of personality. There is already a significant ecosystem around Raspberry Pi, we’d like to think that this move will only strengthen it. We may not be looking at the British Microsoft, but we don’t think we’re looking at another Sinclair either.

27 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Files Paperwork With The London Stock Exchange

  1. I suppose it was too good to last. It will be embrace-extend-extinguished by a rival tech company fairly quickly. It would be foolish if somebody did not embrace this strategy, although it will be unfortunate for everyone.

        1. ^^This, exactly. My guess is that it was inevitable though. FOSS works because it “merely” requires brainpower and commitment, which are ‘soft’ investments. Making hardware requires expensive buildings and equipment, so the investment needed is ‘hard’ – actual money and significant real estate and physical plant. (It’s right there in their names, after all). That’s why there’s so little ‘FOSH’.

          This is why the government should invest in FOSS hardware development – it needs to be part of the commons in the way that FOSS is.

    1. Worse than that. Optimistic scenario is that they exclusively manufacture industrial computers at an industrial price point and maybe offer a discount on the table scraps.

      The raspi foundation rode the goodwill and word of mouth of makers to high-volume production, then prioritized commercial partners at everyone else’s expense. Why? For money.

      Now they’re just taking the facade off, and in the process allowing insiders to cash out. From this point forward it is an undeniable fact that raspi exists to generate money for shareholders, not serve any community. They are not a nonprofit foundation anymore and don’t deserve the goodwill that entails.

      1. The non profit and the business have always been separate and still are separate and will continue to be separate. The company side of things is what is going public.

  2. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is the non-profit, and it does a lot of the educational stuff. Once upon a time they were the sole owners of Raspberry Pi Trading, who do all the hardware stuff. This is apparently a common way for charities to firewall themselves from the potential failure of a commercial arm. The Foundation is giving up part of the ownership of Pi Trading, presumably to fund ever more expensive hardware development.

    1. Ye of little faith! I’m not saying they are the next Apple, but chip development can only rarely be funded by a non-profit, and Raspberry Pi has made quite a respectable name for themselves over the past few years, so why not let them “go public”? When the founders of a company have good values and a good mission statement, it is possible for them to stay on the “light side of the force.” Yes, they will have responsibilities to their shareholders, but what if this is compatible with their mission?

        1. It’s absolutely impossible to buy them out when the Foundation continues holds the controlling stake. There is absolutely no reason for them ever to sell it, to anyone, and they cannot be forced to.

      1. >>>When the founders of a company have good values and a good mission statement, it is possible for them to stay on the “light side of the force.”

        Google, anyone? ‘Don’t be evil’? Ringing any bells?

        It may be possible for the _founders_ to stay on the light side, but once a company passes a certain size it’s almost certain to become evil. That turns out to be pretty much the working definition of capitalism, when you look at what the law says about who corporations are primarily answerable to and what their legal responsibilities are.

  3. I hope they’ve thought carefully about how the public company will be controlled and managed. There are certainly examples of public companies that are just rubber stamps for a particular individual’s vision (eg Tesla) and others that despite the best intentions were taken over by commercial interests (eg OpenAI). Whether or not we see a turn away from open source toward just another proprietary chip vendor will depend a lot on how the governance is set up.

    1. You get listed for money, once money gets in the mix like that (ie though investors and bankers in the modern high-turnover and growth growth growth iteration) it will inevitably poison things.
      Saying it’s going to work out is like falling from a plane at altitude and setting your hope on flapping your arms a lot.

  4. Mixed feeling. One hand they should be able to do more things, more products, and get the company on a real growth path. Can be a good thing. On the other hand if they lose the reason for being and concentrate more on commercial products, it will be a loss for the maker/education community. Time will tell! They’ve had a good run so far and I have and do enjoy working with their products.

  5. The attached financial statements reflect steady growth in revenue and profits over the past three years. Maybe the IPO would be a good investment for many of the loyal RASPI users that have a positive opinion of the foundation. Invest in the IPO stock and elect the Directors on the Board that will support the products and systems that you feel will succeed in the future marketplace.

  6. Hmm. If they developed and export a product taking advantage of the UK tax break given to charity work, are those taxes now due after all? Otherwise that is a form of trade subsidy

  7. Just to remind you that there is tons of materials RPi foundation released – many of them can be used on other hardware too. Maybe it’s time to collect and archive them?

  8. I feel a little sad. I’m happy that the company is in a position to do this, but can’t help feel that the change of priorities this move will make will change it for the worse. I have shares in companies and I am not in the slightest bit intersested in what they do or produce (within certain ethical bounds of course) just what return I get. And that means a change of priorities. I saw it in the company I worked for. 20 years prior to listing they were all about the customer and quaility of products. After the float they were all about feeding the shareholder, fleecing the customers, and cutting corners on the product quality.
    I have 50 or so RPi products, but since the RPi5 it has been slowing down.
    Yeah, a little sad. But good on you RPF and Mr Upton for achievements to date.

  9. i rankled at this from the article: “Raspberry Pi’s path to this point has been surprisingly understated, based upon the strength of its products rather than hype”

    this platform, hackaday, has provided so much raspi hype. to then say it doesn’t have an impact is i guess a kind of blindness? anyways, there’s a constant stream of mobile devices based on raspi here. the specific thing that is hyped is its strength as a platform for mobile! but it isn’t a mobile chip! it’s completely unsuited! what’s understated is the fact that raspi hasn’t so far been a group of do-gooders looking for a cheap chip to enhance the hobbyist experience, but rather a division of broadcom looking to sell completely unsuited bottom-of-the-barrel tv chips using hype and just enough support to make it tangible.

    i’ll never get over the stunning reveal that raspi is the most closed environment i’ve used in a long time, and the worst power management too. there’s plenty of space in the market for a board with those handicaps (OBVIOUSLY), but the hype running contrary to those facts is a disservice to all.

    anyways, unlike the prevailing sentiment in the comments here, i think this might well be a good thing for all i know. the more independent raspi becomes, the more likely they are going to be to consider ditching broadcom and searching the ARM world for a chip that’s actually suitable for the projects that raspi proves so popular in.

  10. Will this change anything?

    An honest, open question to all the hackers here…

    Will you stop buying RPi products because they’re listing? And, if so, what alternative would you go for – Arduino / a RISC-V board / something else?

    1. No, I like the product. Works great. No reason I see to go to some far-east product when you have them building a quality product in the west. That said, we’ll see where the IPO takes it now…. As with anything time will tell.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.