Many Indian unicorns are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Despite the brutal beating that companies like Paytm, Nykaa, and Zomato took on the stock exchanges this year, a host of their peers will be forced to launch their initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2023 — simply because all other taps have run dry.
“We will see more startup IPOs, especially from desperate startups,” Tejas Khoday, co-founder and CEO of trading and investing platform Fyers, told me. “Raising money in the private markets is no longer as easy as it used to be. So, even if inflation goes up and even if markets are saturated, we will continue to see tech IPOs.”
Shares of Paytm — which had pulled off the country’s largest-ever IPO last year — have lost 75% of their market value in the first year of listing, becoming the worst first-year share plunge among large IPOs in 10 years. Those who bought shares of Zomato and Nykaa at the time of their listing have also seen significant wealth erosion.
Among the prominent tech startups that have said they plan to list on the stock exchanges are Oyo, Snapdeal, Byju’s, and MobiKwik. Most of these companies are loss-making, and their fate on the bourses may not be much different.
“I don’t think they’ll be received well at all,” Khoday said, while talking about startups that are planning their IPOs next year. “The recent memory of Paytm, Zomato, and Nykaa is very fresh in the minds of investors. You’ll see more and more IPOs getting listed and just melting from there.”
The only way, Khoday and other experts believe, Indian tech startups have any chance of succeeding in the stock markets is if they value their businesses more realistically, which, in most cases, would mean existing investors taking a haircut.
“The challenge for several startups will be that they are currently on a high private market valuation benchmark, which might be difficult to beat in the primary market issuance,” Subramanya SV, co-founder and CEO of Fisdom, a digital wealth management platform, told me over email. “We will still have several startups going for an IPO in 2023. However, the quality of the issues and the pricing will change in 2023 because in the future IPOs will be based on different parameters delinked from the global markets.”