Raspberry Pi Goes Public

We’ve heard rumors for the last few months, and now it looks like they’ve come true: the business side of Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi Holdings has become a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange.

We heard rumblings about this a while back, and our own [Jenny List] asked the question of what this means for the hobbyist and hacker projects that use their products. After all, they’ve been spending a lot of money making new silicon, and issuing stock helps them continue. Jenny worried that they’d forget that what sells their hardware is the software, but ends up concluding that they’ll probably continue doing more of the same thing, just with better funding.

Raspberry Pi CEO [Eben Upton] said basically the same when we asked him what a floatation would mean for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which is the non-profit arm of the Raspberry Empire, and which is responsible for a lot of the educational material and outreach that they do. (Fast-forward to minute 40.) Before the share issue, the Foundation wholly owned Holdings, and received donations to fund its work. Now that there has been a floatation, it looks like the Foundation will owns 70% of Holdings, and will use this endowment to finance its educational mission.

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we suspect this changes not much at all. Raspberry Pi Holdings Ltd is doing great business by producing niche single-board computers that appeal both to the hacker and industrial markets, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation now has a more concrete source of funding to continue its educational goals. But the future will tell!

56 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Goes Public

  1. At first everything will be fine (“embrace”). Then things will get even better for a while (“extend”). Long time R-Pi will become increasingly locked-down turd (“enshittify”).

    1. I know Cory’s “enshittify” term is getting a lot of usage (especially online, I haven’t heard anyone say this IRL). But do people pushing up their glasses while snorting “enshittify ” actually think this applies to every single product being developed right now? Is there no room for them to not lock down their products?

      1. We’re talking about a foundation for children which has now turned into a company that’s listed on a stock exchange, has shareholders, aims half of its designs at commercial clients and doesn’t do much for children.

        It could all go well, but the trajectory is rather… enshittifying for us normal people.

        1. No, it’s a foundation for children that split off a for-profit hardware subsidiary. They’ve now sold *only* 30% of that subsidiary for operating capital. The people whinging in all these threads don’t give a single shit about the foundation (which is going from strength to strength, funded by the profits from the commercial arm), the only thing they care about is that they think they’re losing out on cheap hardware.

          The reality is, even at the most expensive a Pi has gotten (ignoring scalpers), it’s still ridiculously cheap compared to what computing power cost before it arrived, with staggeringly good software support.

          1. Since you emphasized it as if you actually knew the details:

            30.7 percent of the shares were sold during the IPO, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation hasn’t fully owned the trading company since at least 2021. It had already sold 22.69% of the shares during previous funding rounds. After the IPO the Foundation is now down to 49,08% of the shares. It no longer owns the majority, but at least one single hedge fund alone now owns close to 7%.

      2. Anything that ever ends up being publicly traded goes to hell. Every time, without exception. It’s law that products and services MUST increase shareholder value above all else. And by law, I mean like actual law with like, you know, lawyers and stuff.

        Ask yourself what would happen if SpaceX was on the NYSE. Think…Done yet?

        So yes, as the years go on, expect very incremental improvements in speed and functionality, and fewer and fewer options at the lower end, up to the point where suddenly a NUC seems like a sensible option over a Raspberry Pi.

        Now, maybe this isn’t such a big deal, because there are tons, and will undoubtedly be more random Chinese and other SBCs. It’s just a matter of the community coming together behind a reliable distro and a chip vendor providing drivers.

        1. Not disagreeing with, or passing judgment on, your general sentiment, but –

          “It’s law that products and services MUST increase shareholder value above all else.”
          – this is definitely a thing many people believe or espouse, and corporate boards are certainly sued or overthrown for failing to do so, but as a point of actual *law* it’s not particularly true.

          Or at least that’s so in the UK (which I assume is most relevant here) and the US (where this concept is especially rampant).

          Speaking broadly, for-profit corporations, even public ones, can generally be formed for any legal purpose. That purpose generally tends to be something like “succeed and make as much money as possible” but that’s because it’s a) a popular pastime in capitalist countries, and b) the founding and operating documents of the company either explicitly define it or don’t suggest anything to the contrary.

          The corporate board of directors has a strong legal obligation (“fiduciary duty”) to act in the best interests of their corporation, which of course involves doing their best to achieve the corporation’s purpose. Increasing value for shareholders rather than doing something else can be seen (primarily by the shareholders and their lawyers) as being “in the best interests of the corporation”, and legal arguments can be made and won on those grounds.

          1. There’s some very strange anti-capitalist doomerism going on in the American zeitgeist at the moment. It’s largely a (possibly appropriate) reaction to the complete monopolization of a number of important industries.

            That’s not what’s going on with the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

          2. >some very strange anti-capitalist doomerism going on

            “…the workers have struck for fame, ’cause Lenin’s on sale again…”

            The people who are selling strict top-down state regulation of capitalism, preaching “anti-capitalism”, are the same people who become crony capitalists the moment they get elected. The more you try to concentrate power to take control, the more it gets captured by the wrong interests and the more of a tool you yourself become.

    2. Look for the presence of corporate consultants to predict the time-table of this downward spiral – death by slide-deck.

      Technology is very fluid, and will go from high cost/complexity/restriction to commodity-status utility. Plenty of examples from Unix -> Linux and WordStar -> OpenOffice etc. Plenty of places in the world are quite happy to put together the silicon to run it all on so the Pi will be left as another red flag of obsolescence.

    1. What ever was open about RPI’s hardware?
      Their winning move was being cheap, available and from a western vendor with decent documentation.
      That was enough to build the momentum.
      But the hardware was never open, so I’m not sure how more closed they could get on that front.
      Maybe locking the bootloader and only allowing signed binaries, but that would achieve more or less nothing for them.

      1. This. RPi has always had absurdly nonstandard superclose architecture where ARM core is just a coprocessor not able to control almost anything directly and not even be able to do suspend to ram.

        They wasn’t even first to provide affordable SBCs for hobbyists. BeagleBone with mainline kernel FTW!

  2. Well. Was fun while it lasted. Publicly Traded = They’re in for profits above all else.

    Open source? Only so far as it gets them positive income.

    Time to move on I’m afraid. Least we have advance warning and a decade of hardware that will remain profitable that has good community support.

    1. The Foundation will own 70% of the shares, so it’s unlikely any activist investor or pension fund could get enough shares and votes to be able to twist the Foundation’s arm and make them do things they don’t want to do.

      1. According to the IPO prospectus, the Raspberry Pi Foundation owns less than 50 percent after the IPO. The blog post also just states it will own a “significant portion”, not the majority.

          1. That statement is in the prospectus (it’s 30.7% to be exact), but it’s misleading. The Raspberry Pi Foundation didn’t own 100% of its commercial subsidiary to begin with. It only owned 77.31% before the IPO. The rest was owned by Lansdowne Developed Markets Master Fund Limited (4.41%), Ezrah Charitable Trust (3.53%), Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation (1.76%), Arm Technology Investments 2 Limited (3.53%) and the Raspberry Pi Foundation Employee Benefit Trust (5.42%, represented by Zedra Trust Company).

            The IPO consisted of shares that are newly emitted and shares the Raspberry Pi Foundation is selling from their own portfolio. Some of these shares were sold to the existing investors, the rest was sold to new investors. In this process the percentage of shares the Raspberry Pi Foundation now owns dropped to 49,08%, while Landsdowne Limited increased its percentage to 6.79% and Arm more than doubled its percentage to 8.40%.

            It’s all on page 13 of the IPO prospectus, downloadable at https://investors.raspberrypi.com/ipo/documents/11 .

      1. Hardly fair, everyone was having production issues and blocks of Pi’s were making it out to the general consumer. All the giant tech companies had similar issues. Having everyone in lockdown needing something to do so it appears demand spiked a lot as well as the supply chain issues caused.

        It is a situation nobody could really keep everyone happy, and putting a little bit of priority on the clients that actually need a Pi to keep working, and thus keep employing their staff does make sense from a public good perspective – and doesn’t help the company any more than if they only sold them to the general public first and foremost – they are not making any extra money selling them, as the whole reason they couldn’t supply as many as the hackers want is demand is higher than production can be… Heck might even be a relative loss of money selling to the business needs first – giant orders generally get reduced unit prices..

  3. Not changing much is part of the problem.
    Pi has been quickly moving away from makers/hackers for the last half decade.
    Software support is great.
    It’s essential even.
    But it is meaningless if an “educational” board is $100.

    Pi started making the best, most useful board they could, from available parts, for about $20.
    Considering you will need at least $20 in supporting hardware, that is already stretching the limits of an education budget.

    The Pi4 “business partnerships” were a questionable choice at best, and it blew up in their face.

    Investors are a problem.
    They are ALWAYS a problem.
    Line must go up.

    It doesn’t matter how good anyone’s intentions are.
    They might have convinced themselves they are doing a good thing.
    This just signs their death certificate as far as I, and any makers/hackers I know are concerned.

    No one I know still uses Pis.
    No hyperbole or exaggeration.
    No one.
    Zero people I know have a Pi beyond the 3.

    Even after the availability came back, the trust and goodwill was gone.

        1. Obviously it doesn’t. But many of the applications people were using Pi’s for seemed to be emulators, media boxes, home assistant servers, pinhole servers etc. Things that don’t need GPIO. Given the cost of the Pi, the accessories needed to run them, not to mention the incomprehensible decision to do mini/micro HDMI (can never remember which it is) just because “looks two monitors on a pi!!”, it is often cheaper to get an X86 USFF box, and you get more performance for said emulators and servers.

        2. My preference is to delegate all of the GPIOs to separate MCUs that are extremely good at doing that exact tastk, then just report or listen to the master that be a N100 or RPi via MQTT. RPis are not really good at GPIO, especially when it comes to timing.
          Granted it requires a more organised infrastructure, but do find it more robust and reliable than one board that does it all. Just my two cents.

        3. I never got that argument. An FT232H board costs less than a dollar and works with every existing device that has an USB host port, including an old smartphone from the drawer. Why buy a completely new computer if all you need are GPIO pins?

    1. fwiw i am about as negative as anyone possibly can be about pis but i have a pi4 that i still use. i’m mad as hell that i had an enormous uphill battle to write software for it and then they immediately changed the closed interface i was using. and i got a celeron nuc sitting right beside it which is far easier to work with. so i’d love to abandon it, but i happened to hard-solder a hack onto its gpio and i haven’t gotten around to transplanting it to the nuc.

      reminds me of one of the pi things that really boggles my mind…if you don’t remount your sdcard as read-only then the tendency is to destroy the sdcard through repeated writes for like log files and stuff. but it’s so easy to set up read-only root! so you would think the pi-specific OSes would do that by default, but no. bringing it up because i did mount the sdcard as read-only so my maligned pi will last forever. sigh.

    2. You do realise they do make a huge family of Pi boards, some of which are really really really cheap. Its only the powerful more desktop performance like models that are more expensive than the initial launch Pi’s, and even those powerful ones have pretty cheap versions if you don’t need lots of RAM.

      Having the option to have $100 board with many times the performance and some extra features on the $10 Pi Zero is a good thing, you don’t have to buy a Pi4 or 5. So as long as the Pi folks continue to offer a range of models at all price points they are great for education at many levels. Largely because unlike any other SBC competitor their stuff will actually work with a kernel from this millennium, if you need more compute performance you can just bring in the more powerful pi model (usually you don’t even have to do anything but move the SDcard to the more powerful unit) and the hardware remains available for a very long time so if you do let out the magic smoke a drop in replacement is a real possibility.

      I’d love there to be a real competitor for SBC’s, with this news more than ever. As while I hope the Pi folks will remain dependable with shareholders to answer too… But most of the rivial SBC makers boards are so terribly supported odds are good you won’t ever get all the advertised hardware interfaces working even on the one image they provide, and will be battling uphill to keep it updated… Which could be your idea of fun and educational, and if it is that is great, but most folks especially those wanting to learn about computing are not at all ready for that sort of challenge.

    3. We just bought a few hundred Pi’s for our company (Pi 5), to upgrade our environmental systems with (from Pi 3’s). We are going to expand it as they are crucial for our company (can’t disclose much though). I expect that we have at least a thousand Pi 5’s running before the end of the year.

      Personally I have two Pi 5’s and a bunch of Pi 4’s running at home.

  4. I have no idea why Unity and Raspberri Pi, were giving a free/open-source nod by the community–when they were not. It seems like really good astroturfing.

    Don’t worry, RPi will protect your investment–by selling out more. : P

  5. It doesn’t matter what percentage the foundation owns, the board has to make decisions for shareholders as a whole – so once you are a publicly listed company that’s the ball game – you exist to make profit (and rightly so).

    If they had needed funding/capital there were plenty of other ways of doing it without going fully commercial. But as quite a few of the comments above say – they have been moving away from hobbyists for many years now, so it isn’t surprising..

    1. You can exist to make profit and not be burning the company down for the shortest of short term numbers – steady and genuine investment in the future is profitable too (arguably its actually the only really profitably move – once you burn the brand down, fire the real talent etc that is a death spiral its next to impossible to pull out of).

      So as long as the right people remain at the helm, and own enough stock they can’t easily be forced out being public isn’t immediately the end of the world. Does make me nervous for their future, but for now and the near term nothing has really changed.

    1. Almost all Helium “miners” used to have a raspi4 in addition to the LoRa radio and GPS, so it might very well track with that too.
      At the height of the shortage manufacturers had like +600k unit backlog, all of which used a raspi4 per unit.

  6. Wow, have a lot of ‘sky is falling’ comments here. If I was a successful company and wanted to expand I’d probably do the same thing…. Take a risk, to make more money and more products. It is the way a business can grow and be more successful. Put more people to work too. And you and I can gain/loss if playing in the stock market being a stock holder. Guess I don’t see a down side myself. I’ll continue to buy their product if it is something I can use. Simple as that. If not, there is the Beagle Bones…. And other Western built products.

    I really don’t understand the anti-business sentiment here (and not just RPI focus).

  7. I agree with the first commenter. At first we’ll see no change, but publicly traded companies have an obligation to increase profits above all else. Long term this can only be ruinous to the philosophical goals of the raspberry pi foundation.

  8. The first raspberry pi was never $20. And I have a feeling that 12 years later, $35 is probably going to get you pretty much the same performance/speed/features as you could have gotten in 2012. Except, wait, you can get a raspberry pi 4 today for $35.


  9. At least three of the finest legal minds in these comments have stated that the company now has an obligation, by law, to maximise profits. Which is simply not true:

    I will say that the foundation’s educational offerings are a bit lame, as is the move to a custom GPIO chip, and the choice of a 5V/5A power supply (five amps!!!), but their competitors are even lamer. I’d like to see a cheap, capable board like this continue to exist, but the sweet spot is probably the Pi 3B+, in terms of performance and power consumption.

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