IPO Lock-Up Period: Purpose and Duration

IPO Lock-Up Period: Purpose and Duration

4 Min.


Lock-up periods, a contractual provision following an initial public offering (IPO), restrict insiders from selling their shares for a specific duration. Typically lasting 180 days, the length of the lock-up period can vary depending on the circumstances. In the case of special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPOs, the lock-up period tends to be longer, usually spanning from 180 days to one year. The individuals affected by lock-up periods include insiders like founders, owners, managers, and employees of the company. Additionally, venture capitalists and other early private investors may also be subject to these restrictions.

The Purpose of IPO Lock-Up Periods

The primary objective behind implementing IPO lock-up periods is to prevent large-scale selling of shares by major investors, as this could cause an initial decline in the stock price. Typically, insiders possess a significantly higher proportion of stock shares compared to the general public. Therefore, their extensive selling activities right after the company's public debut could have a substantial and immediate impact on the share price.

Furthermore, lock-up periods serve to dispel any notion that insiders lack confidence in the company's future prospects. Occasionally, insiders may wish to capitalize on long-awaited profits. However, such actions could create unjustified negative perceptions that harm the company's reputation without valid reasons.

Even after the expiration of the lock-up period, insiders may still face restrictions on selling their shares. This occurs when an insider possesses undisclosed, significant information that, if shared through share sales, would constitute insider trading. Such circumstances may arise if the lock-up period coincides with the earnings season, where insiders have access to material nonpublic information.

IPO Lock-Up Legality

Investors should be aware that lock-up periods are not mandated by regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Instead, these periods are voluntarily implemented by the company going public or enforced by the investment bank managing the IPO. The underlying objective remains consistent in both cases: to maintain stable stock prices following the company's public debut.

To obtain information regarding a company's lock-up period(s), the public can refer to the S-1 filing submitted to the SEC. Any modifications to the lock-up period(s) will be announced through subsequent filings such as S-1/As.

Prior to investing in an IPO, it is crucial to thoroughly examine the lock-up period and its implications. Conducting due diligence on this aspect is essential for informed investment decisions.

Important Factors for Investment

Jim Cramer and other investment professionals often advise investors to wait until the lock-up period concludes before considering investments in newly listed companies. During bearish market conditions, newly listed stocks frequently experience price declines as insiders sell off their shares at the end of the lock-up period. This presents an opportunity for investors to acquire shares of these companies at a discounted price, particularly when insiders hold substantial stakes.

By waiting for the lock-up period to expire, investors gain additional time to evaluate the stock's performance. If the stock experiences a significant drop initially, it may be wise to explore alternative investment options. However, if the stock showed promising performance leading up to the lock-up period's end, it could still prove to be a viable investment opportunity.

Options Trading

In the options market, the IPO lock-up period introduces intriguing dynamics. On the IPO day, options are not accessible. Nevertheless, for significant and even mid-cap companies, options often become available prior to the expiration of the lock-up period. Investors who anticipate a potential stock decline after the lock-up period can consider purchasing protective puts as a safeguard. Alternatively, speculators may opt for call or put options based on their expectations of the stock's future price movement.


An IPO lock-up period is a contractual provision designed to prevent insiders from selling their shares for a specified period following the IPO. The primary objective of these lock-up periods is to prevent a sudden influx of shares from large investors, thereby maintaining market stability. It is important to note that lock-up periods are not mandated by regulatory bodies such as the SEC. Investors can sometimes benefit by waiting for the lock-up period to expire before purchasing shares of a newly listed company, potentially saving money in the process.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)
IPO Lock-Up Period