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May 13, 2019

Uber IPO debacle raises hairy questions for WeWork

The art of pricing an IPO: Telling the difference between a great company and a great investment


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A nightmarish debut by Uber Technologies Inc. complicates listing plans at other tech unicorns, particularly the breed of large-cap tech companies that counts WeWork Cos. as a member.

Traders have made clear that IPOs by large, hyper-capitalized technology companies with opaque fundamentals and massive losses will face scrutiny. That’s the big lesson from Lyft Inc. and Uber’s disappointing debuts, according to a research firm that focuses on tech listings.

“Two points make a line,” Triton Research Inc. wrote in a note to clients. “WeWork recently announced it had filed to go public later this year and we can now safely wonder if they will have the courage to go through with it.”

Triton warns that WeWork Cos.’s loss profile is even worse than Lyft’s and more closely resembles that of another doomed IPO -- Snap Inc. WeWork “may need a new plan” after Uber proved investor appetite for these types of listings is weaker than expected. Airbnb Inc. could also fall into this category.

But technology firms with more solid financial footing, such as Slack Technologies Inc., don’t need to tap the brakes on their listing plans.

Slack, which added a quarterly forecast to its prospectus on Monday, is in a financially advantageous position to go public. It has years of cash runway on its balance sheet, Triton says, which helps explain why the firm is opting for a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO. Recent tech IPOs with healthier financials have been surging, including Zoom Video Communications Inc., DocuSign Inc., Elastic NV and Zscaler Inc.

Uber shares closed on Monday 18 per cent below Thursday’s IPO price, which had already come in near the bottom of its offering range.

Post-market launches of U.S. secondary offerings:

  • No secondary offerings are known to have launched Monday evening, following the S&P 500’s worst session in four months.

More ECM situations Bloomberg is following:

Uber Shares Quickly Approaching ‘White Knuckle’ Territory -- With Uber Technologies Inc.’s shares plunging nearly 19% below its IPO price on Monday, the stock might be fast approaching a “white knuckle” territory, according to one Wall Street analyst. Click here to keep reading

Minerva Is Said to Get Full Commitments for Athena IPO in Chile -- Brazilian beef producer Minerva has secured investor pledges for the purchase of all offered shares in Athena Foods at about US$1.92 apiece, valuing the unit at US$1.1 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter said. 

Pinterest’s Surge Triggers Cautious Reviews From Wall Street -- Pinterest Inc. slid after the social media company’s surge since its initial public offering drew a number of cautious reviews from Wall Street analysts. 

Zoom Video Analysts Like Its Growth But Caution on Valuation -- Zoom Video Communications Inc. analysts started coverage on the company on Monday, and while there was unanimous optimism over its growth potential, a number of analysts also said this was already reflected in the surging stock.