When it comes to IPOs, the thrill is gone. What was once a process full of the romance and excitement of becoming a publicly traded company on Wall Street, but that has largely dissipated as the process has become too expensive and painful for many companies to bear. Underwriting eats up 4 percent to 7 percent of gross proceeds, according to research by PwC, plus an additional $4.2 million of offering costs such as the required financial assessment followed by the roadshow to visit and pitch institutional investors on the opportunity. Once public, CEOs estimate the annual cost of being public between $1 million and $2 million per year. Then, for many companies, there is the relentless short-term pressure exerted by shareholders to keep share prices aloft. Add the ill-fated IPOs of companies such as WeWork and it all helps explain why in 1996 there were more than 7,000 domestic companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges compared with fewer than 4,000 today.