The most hyped IPO of the year turned out to be smaller than some expected.
Uber, a leader in the ride-hailing market, priced its initial public offering at $45 a share on Thursday. In the process, it raised $8.1 billion, making it one of the largest US public offerings ever.
The amount was at the low end of its original proposed price range of between $44 and $50 a share -- a range that was already viewed as cautious for the company. At the top end of that proposed price range, Uber would have been valued at $91 billion on a fully diluted basis, an impressive sum but well below the $120 billion valuation that bankers had once reportedly suggested to the company.
The conservative pricing comes as Lyft, Uber's chief rival in the US, has languished on the stock market since going public in late March. Lyft shares are now down about 25% from their IPO price after the company reported losing more than $1 billion in the first three months of this year.
To make matters worse, markets have been jittery this week as President Donald Trump reignited trade war fears by threatening to escalate tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush, said in an investor note this week that these two developments likely "caused Uber to look at a more conservative price range based on its demand for its IPO."
Even in a year that is seeing a growing list of flashy unicorn companies going public, Uber stands out from the pack. In the decade since its founding, Uber raised unprecedented sums of funding, bulldozed over rivals and into markets around the world, and rose to become the most valuable startup in the US.
While Lyft is the obvious closest proxy for Uber, there are clear differences in the scale of their ambitions. Lyft wants to be a consumer transportation company; Uber wants to be more like Amazon, offering a broader mix of services. In addition to its core ride hailing business, Uber also offers meal deliveries, freight shipping and is even testing a program to rent kitchen space.
Like Lyft, however, Uber has a history of bleeding money. It lost $1.8 billion in 2018, more than any startup in the US has ever lost in the year prior to going public. The previous company to hold that dubious honor, however briefly: Lyft.
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