2019 was a tumultuous year in all regards and the stock market was not excluded. A host of unicorns went public and endured quite a bumpy ride. Here’s a look at some of 2019’s most high-profile IPOs.
In the gig-economy sector, we had Uber (UBER) and Fiverr (FVRR) making their debut on the public stage. Valued at $82 billion, Uber was one of the biggest tech IPOs ever. That didn’t last long, though. Investors still had bad taste in their mouths from the underperformance of Lyft (LYFT), Uber’s competitor, and Uber went public at a lower-than-expected price of $45. Since then, it has hovered around the $30 range, well below its initial price. Fiverr (FVRR), a Tel Aviv-based online marketplace connecting freelancers with companies, went public at a price of $21 and skyrocketed 90% before the end of the day. Fiverr is a rarity in that it was one of only a handful of companies to undergo a Series D funding round. It’s rival, Upwork (UPWK) debuted at $15 and has steadily decreased since.
Moving on to Food & Beverage (because who doesn’t like food), humans weren’t the only ones being represented on this year’s list. Chewy (CHWY), an e-tailer in the growing pet products industry, went public on the NYSE at an initial price of $21 and barked all the way to $34.99 by closing. Since then, it has traded exclusively above its offering price. Because of its dual class share structure, though, Chewy is unable to be included in any ETFs or mutual funds that track them.
Back to human food, Beyond Meat (BYND) has pioneered the rise of plant-based meat substitutes in the broader economy, selling their “ground beef”, “chicken”,“pork sausage” and other products in supermarkets and restaurants such as TGI Friday’s across America. Offered at $25, BYND soared to $234.90 a few months later before returning to Earth and has traded above its offering price since. Its rival, Impossible Foods has been on the fences for an IPO but does not have any concrete plans to go public anytime soon, opting instead to raise more capital in means other an IPO.
With all that veggie burger eaten, our health-conscious consumer is obviously going to want to burn off those calories. In comes Peloton (PTON). With their technologically enhanced stationary bikes and treadmills, they were lifted to an initial valuation of over $8 Billion. Peloton is following the ever-growing trend of subscription-based services and provides fitness classes through those endeavors.
In a completely different sector, social media was represented by the offering of Pinterest (PINS). Surprisingly, Pinterest is the fastest growing website by overall member growth, surpassing Facebook and competing with Tumblr along the way. Its stock has remained slightly volatile — record highs and lows in the process, and is currently trading just below its initial price of $19. Underneath the same tech umbrella was a lesser-known, but equally as important, company called Zoom (ZM). One of the few profitable companies that IPO’d in 2019, the cloud-based videoconferencing company still did not garner the tremendous attention from the media and investors that other, more “famous” companies did. To add insult to the ignorant investors, Zoom has been trading exponentially higher than its offering price and looks to continue its growth with the rise of its product usage across all industries.
Closing it out is Smile Direct Club, with its direct-to-consumer business model which utilized licensed orthodontists to act as “brokers” in its battle with Invisalign in the clear aligner wars. While there are extremely promising growth expectations for this ever-expanding industry, new regulatory concerns have increased investor anxiety about rising expenses. This has caused its stock price to fall over 50% from its initial price of $23.
All in all, 2019 was a year in which a plethora of overvalued, loss-generating companies went public. Over time, thankfully, investors have corrected their mistakes and have calculated correct valuations.
Photo Caption: 2019 exposed the vulnerability of beloved tech startups
Photo Credit: Pixabay