DocuSign's IPO filing flags a new risk factor: Trump's trade policies

DocuSign's IPO filing flags a new risk factor: Trump's trade policies

Donald Trump

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump

  • E-signature company DocuSign made public on Wednesday the document it filed that starts the process for a public offering.
  • Among the risk factors the company listed in the document, it included President Trump's trade policies.
  • Trump this month has announced a bevy of new tariffs, provoking fears of a broad trade war.

Economists have warned that President Donald Trump's threatened trade war may undermine the global economy.

Now, in what may be a first, a company planning to go public is listing Trump's trade policies as one of the risk factors potential investors should keep in mind.

In the document it made public Wednesday that starts its IPO process, e-signature company DocuSign warned that Trump's rhetoric on trade could lead to policies that harm its business.

"The Trump administration has been critical of existing trade agreements and may impose more stringent export and import controls," DocuSign said in its S-1 filing. "Obtaining the necessary export license or other authorization for a particular sale may be time-consuming and may result in the delay or loss of sales opportunities even if the export license ultimately may be granted."


DocuSign noted that encryption, which is central to its e-signature service, is already subject to export controls under US law. But the company's ability to market its products to foreign customers could become even more restricted under Trump's policies, DocuSign warned.

"Any decreased use of our solutions or limitation on our ability to export or sell our solutions would adversely affect our business, operating results and prospects," the company added.

Trump has been highly critical of US trade policies since he campaigned for president. Earlier this month, he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Last week, he announced he would slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The moves have sparked fears of a wider trade war.

However, Trump has seemed to back off from the threats. The administration has carved out exceptions to the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada, Mexico and certain other countries. It's also entering into negotiations with China that could avert a showdown and potentially lead to greater access to the market for US companies.

A 15-year-old startup, DocuSign is seeking to raise as much as $100 million in its public offering, though that number is a placeholder that will likely increase. The company, which has posted strong growth but also big losses, plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol DOCU.