The year 2021 was a “wild” year for stock markets across the globe. With economies recovering after a pandemic-induced slump and millions of new investors entering stock markets, most key indices yielded strong returns. The Nasdaq Composite, for instance, gained 21.4% in 2021, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 19%.
Amid this euphoria, youngish internet companies dived into the stock markets with their record-breaking initial public offerings (IPOs) globally. Initially, a number of these stock market debuts were successful — who doesn’t want a “unicorn” in their portfolio, after all? But soon after, many started nosediving, eroding millions of dollars of investors’ wealth.
The reasons for a poor show are varied and leave them far from their IPO glory.
Here are some of the tech companies that went public in 2021 and their journeys so far.
India-based food delivery and restaurant discovery platform listed in July 2021 on the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
52-week high: 169 Indian rupees (around $2.20)
52-week low: 75.5 Indian rupees ($1)
When Zomato made its IPO plans public in the first half of 2021, in-country retail investors were ecstatic: They finally had the opportunity to put their money into an internet business, a sector that had, until recently, created wealth mostly for venture capitalists and private equity firms. It is “a defining moment that marks a major historical milestone and a tribute to the entire private digital ecosystem,” wrote S Ramesh, managing director and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Capital Company, in The Economic Times.
So, it was no surprise that Zomato made a “stellar debut” with its shares opening at an over 50% premium to its IPO offer price — at 116 Indian rupees ($1.50) — on the first day. At its peak, on November 16, Zomato’s shares touched 169 rupees ($2.20) apiece on the BSE.
But the celebration was short-lived.
The share price has nearly halved since its listing. On March 16, Zomato’s shares hit a record low of 75.55 Indian rupees ($1), falling nearly 35% below its listing price. This correction has been attributed to the overall economic environment, and the lifting of lockdown restrictions in India, which lured consumers to dine at restaurants. “Recently listed new-age businesses saw a lot of selling pressure, which was largely driven by macro factors and global volatility, followed by weaker GOV [gross order value] seen in Zomato’s December earnings, which was below market expectations,” Prashanth Tapse, vice president of research at Mehta Equities, told The Indian Express.
One97 Communications (Paytm)
One of India’s largest fintech companies listed in November 2021 on the NSE and BSE.
52-week high: 1,961 Indian rupees (around $25)
52-week low: 520 Indian rupees (around $7)
One97 Communications — the parent company of India’s fintech giant Paytm — made history this past November when it launched what was India’s largest-ever IPO. And the very same day, the SoftBank-backed company made more history: the biggest drop on opening day for share sales worth more than 1,000 crore rupees ($131,852) in India.
The shares, which were listed at 1,950 rupees (around $25) apiece, are now trading at around 600 rupees ($8) — a nearly 70% drop. This nosedive in share prices has been attributed to an overvaluation at the time of IPO and key executive resignations. "Fed tightening and increased tapering are definitely playing out on high valuations. The biggest effect has come on some of the new-age, new tech companies in the U.S. and also in India," Aditya Kondawar, chief operating officer of JST Investments, told MoneyControl.com in January.
In March, BSE sought clarification from One97 about the steep fall in its share prices “in order to ensure that investors have the latest relevant information about the company… so that the interest of the investors is safeguarded.” In response, One97 said its business is fundamentally robust, and “there is no information/ announcement, which in our opinion may have a bearing on the price/volume behavior in the scrip.”
Nu Holdings (Nubank)
Brazilian neobank and the largest fintech bank in Latin America listed in December 2021 on the New York Stock Exchange.
52-week high: $12.24
52-week low: $5.55
After listing at around $10 apiece — the top of the IPO range — Nu Holding’s share price rose above $12, buoyed by the “buildup of investor enthusiasm.” But it took just a month for investors’ exuberance around “the Warren Buffet-backed star of Latin America’s fintechs” to die.
By January 21, the share price fell by nearly 40% from its highs. Felipe Miranda, chief strategist and CIO at financial publishing company Empiricus, said in a note that month that Nubank’s shares were expensive, as it faced challenges such as monetizing users and the need to raise more capital. Miranda’s prediction came true in March when the Brazilian central bank announced a new rule that mandated financial services firms like Nubank to have capital requirements similar to those of banks. Nubank would need $360 million more to meet the new rule, Goldman Sachs estimated.
The company argued that things were not as bad as they seemed. In a securities filing, Nubank said the regulatory change would not hit its business model or ability to grow. The statement did provide some support to the company’s stock, but it still continues to trade off its highs, at around $8. But not all experts have written off the stock. “Sometimes, there’s a delayed reaction as Wall Street can take a while to warm up to a newly-listed company,” wrote David Moadel, a financial writer and social media influencer, in an article on InvestorPlace.com. “As we’ll discover, there’s a vast addressable market that Nubank is seeking to capture. Furthermore, the company’s financials should motivate the stockholders to stay in the trade, and perhaps pick up a few more shares.”
Uruguayan fintech company listed in June 2021 on the Nasdaq.
52-week high: $73.43
52-week low: $22.21
dLocal was among a host of payment firms across the globe that decided to go public during the pandemic, with business increasing as people turned to online shopping and contactless payments in stores.
In June 2021, dLocal raised $617.65 million through an IPO, which valued the company at over $6 billion. Its shares, listed on the Nasdaq, were priced at $21 apiece in the IPO, above the indicated price of between $16 and $18. The stock opened at $31, and hit its lifetime high, crossing $73 in September 2021.
By October, the company’s shares started taking a beating after it posted disappointing earnings for the third quarter. And by December, the share had nosedived nearly 60% from its highs. Investors had placed a high value on the stock when it initially started trading, and the cost looked expensive in comparison to its peers in the payments space, experts said.
In March, dLocal posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings, which provided some support to the stock. Over the last month, it has traded between $25 and $35, higher than its IPO offer, but still far below its highs.
Indonesian e-commerce company listed in August 2021 on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.
52-week high: 1,325 Indonesian rupiah ($0.092)
52-week low: 258 Indonesian rupiah ($0.018)
Bukalapak’s IPO was the largest in Indonesia’s history. Excitement was high at launch with the share price rising 24% over the offer price on the first day of trading. This sharp increase, however, triggered investors to book profits, and prices started correcting quickly. On the third day of trading, Bukalapak’s shares hit the lower limit. The poor performance of the stock frustrated investors so much that many took to app stores to leave bad reviews and one-star ratings for Bukalapak’s app.
In December, the company’s shares fell sharply after its CEO Rachmat Kaimuddin resigned. “The CEO’s departure confirms our fears about the company’s vulnerabilities… The company is, at best, a marginal player with an unsettled management team,” Singapore-based head of consumer sector equity research at Tellimer, Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, told Forbes following the news.
With investors who are skeptical about the company’s ability to compete against larger rivals like GoTo by January, a Bloomberg report called the IPO a “flop” as Bukalapak’s market cap shrank by 66% since its listing.
Singapore-headquartered technology company listed in December on Nasdaq.
52-week high: $13.29
52-week low: $2.95
The food delivery, transportation, and digital payments unicorn’s $4.5 billion IPO was the largest by a company from Southeast Asia in the U.S. But that didn’t seem to mean much to investors: The listing was dead on arrival, with the company’s shares ending nearly 21% down on the day of debut.
This disaster possibly has to do with the road Grab took to Nasdaq.
The company went public by merging with a “special-purpose acquisition company” or SPAC, also known as a "blank-check company.” A SPAC is a shell firm that has no operations and is often set up only to raise money through an IPO. Under this arrangement, Grab merged with a SPAC called Altimeter Growth Corp., which had been launched by U.S. investment firm Altimeter Capital.
While the SPAC route has been used in the U.S. before, American regulators recently proposed tightening the regulations for such firms. “If you are a tech startup, you can lose money if you’re gaining market share. It’s much harder to explain to investors that you are losing money while also losing market share, especially once your stock is being publicly traded via SPAC with an uncertain regulatory future,” wrote James Guild, an expert in trade, finance, and economic development in Southeast Asia, in an article in March.
Whatever the reasons, the investors who put their money into Grab’s IPO are currently sitting on a pile of losses as the company’s shares continue to trade close to their lifetime low.