Public Company Term category: Stocks In 10 words or less: A company whose stock can be bought and sold by investors.
Definition: A company that investors can buy and sell shares of on the open market. As opposed to a private company, in which they can't.
StockJargon Advice: A company "goes public" when it issues stock for the first time. This represents the first time regular investors can buy or sell shares openly.
A private company is much harder to invest in. Not everyone can do it and it's usually at the discretion of management.
The downside to being a public company is that the company must report more information. They're also liable to shareholders and must look out for their interests. If shareholders get upset, it can get messy for the company.
Underwriting While this article doesn't focus on quiet periods specifically, it does explain the process by which companies' stocks are sold to the public.