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Companies Find a New Allure in Going Private

Photo Illustration by Justin Metz for Fortune Magazine

It’s a tectonic shift: In three of the past six years, more tech companies (by total value) have fled the public markets—Sayonara, hectoring activist investors! Death to the tyranny of quarterly numbers! Begone, SEC reports!—than have gone public, according to M&A advisory firm Bulger Partners. Think about that. Till recently, the only thing more certain than a Ping-Pong table in a Silicon Valley office was the dream of cashing out in an IPO. Now? The shaky markets and pressures of being public have changed the equation.

Fortune is exploring the phenomenon and recognizing the huge—but sometimes hard to see—contributions of nonpublic companies in a special three-part package:

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• “Private Desires” explains why companies are fleeing public listings—and why it often pays off.

Fortune’s debut list of the 25 Most Important Private Companies are chosen not just on the basis of their prodigious revenues or assets, but also for their social currency, connection to our daily lives, and disruptive impact.

• Finally, “The Master of Megaprojects” reveals the inner workings of the secretive—until now—construction titan Bechtel. What’s happening behind the door marked “private” is more important than ever; read on for entrée into that shrouded world.

A version of this article appears in the June 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “The New Allure of Going Private.”

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