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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Casper Sleep, the mattress retailer that was valued at more than $1 billion by venture capitalists, last night priced its IPO at the bottom of an already-slashed price range.

Reality check: Yes, this went just about as badly as most of us thought it would. No, it shouldn't be used as an avatar for the broader IPO or DTC markets.

Bad bed: Casper originally filed to price shares at between $17-$19, which already signaled a bit of a valuation haircut. Then it slashed the range to $12-$13, with insiders NEA and IVP agreeing to buy around 10% of the float (a very unusual move for VCs, outside of biotech). It ended up pricing at just $12 per share, for an initial market cap of $476 million and a fully-diluted value of around $547 million.

History: Casper held sales talks in 2017 with Target. What happened next depends on who you talk to. One version is that Casper walked after Target came about $100 million short of its $1 billion asking price. Another version is that Target never formally bid, after concluding it was uncomfortable with owning a long replacement cycle product that takes up lots of floor space.

  • Target did end up making a minority investment, either because it still thought the company had upside (version #1) or as a make-good (version #2).

Investor reaction: This is an unprofitable consumer product company whose IPO prospectus seems to suggest that it discovered people like to have a buffer between themselves and the floor. It has a ludicrously generous return policy that mainly benefits landfill owners, and doesn't break out its non-mattress product sales.

  • Plus, it has tons of competition ⁠— from the high end to low end, upstart to incumbent. One of those upstart rivals, Purple, has slightly higher revenue and a market cap just north of $700 million.

The big picture: Casper began life as a direct-to-consumer company and, like many other DTC startups, has expanded into physical retail (both third party and its own branded stores). But that's where many of the similarities end.

  • As Target realized, mattresses have very long replacement cycles. Even if you love your Casper mattress, chances are you don't plan to buy another one for years (maybe even a decade). It's more like luggage than shoes or makeup, let alone like software.
  • That's why Casper has worked to expand its product line into peripherals that range from bed-sheets to CBD gummies (to help you sleep). But Casper's decision to not provide data into how these other offerings have fared is not encouraging.
  • On the broader IPO front, two other companies this morning will list after pricing at the top of their range.

The bottom line: Conventional wisdom was right, but too much extrapolation would be wrong.

Go deeper: Casper falls below unicorn status in new IPO filing

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.