Going public is the process of companies going from privately held to publicly held. They do this by having many shareholders and by registering shares with the SEC so that there are 'free trading shares'. There are several methods for going public.
The Direct Filing method (alternative public offering) is essentially an IPO without a simultaneous money raise, and does not have to be executed by a registered brokerage firm acting as an underwriter.
Unlike in a reverse merger, the ‘shell’ is completely custom designed for the company going public
In a reverse merger, the private company purchases and merges into an already publicly trading ‘shell’ company and, like with the Direct Filing method, and underwriter is not needed.
Already have an existing shareholder base which can be both good and bad. By far the fastest way to go public on the OTCBB
Potential unforeseen issues in the acquired shell and much more expensive than going straight to the OTCBB via filings. Not as custom as going public via direct filings.
An IPO is basically a Direct Filing in conjunction with a simultaneous money raise, and must be executed by a licensed brokerage firm acting as an underwriter.
Must be executed by a registered brokerage firm. This means a firm must be willing to take you public, and raise you money.
This method typically raises more capital than other methods and the capital is raised by the underwriter.
Conventional IPOs are somewhat out of favor right now. Underwritings are very expensive and may be delayed and many are canceled. The issue price can be changed by market conditions or by the underwriter (brokerage firm) at any time, or much worse, canceled altogether at any time, after much expense. Finally, most smaller companies will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a brokerage firm to raise them money in a conventional IPO.