May 11, 2019

Uber's IPO got caught in a perfect storm

Photo: Ohannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Uber's IPO stalled out yesterday, stunning both Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Details: The ride-hail giant priced shares near the bottom of their range on Thursday night. They opened even lower on Friday morning before falling again by market close. In all, Uber lost nearly $6 billion in market cap in its first five hours as a public company.

No, this is not normal for a highly anticipated IPO.

Uber got hit by a confluence of negative events, some of which were outside of its control:

  • The Dow was already down more than 300 points before Uber's first trade, due largely to President Trump's imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports. Stocks recovered later on, but investor sentiment was lousy during the time when an IPO would typically pop.
    • Maybe Trump played the long revenge game on Uber, after it snubbed him just days into his presidency.
  • The world is a vampire. North Korea. Iran. Venezuela. Pick your geopolitical poison.
  • Uber went public at the end of the stock market's worst-performing week of 2019.
  • Lyft already had investors running scared, having earlier in the week reported disappointing Q1 results and warning that 2019 would represent "peak losses."
  • Ride-hail driver strikes on Wednesday didn't seem to have much impact on car availability, but they did raise awareness and prompted tweets from several presidential candidates.
  • Unwelcome attention after Axios first reported that Uber founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick wanted to help ring the bell but was relegated to the NYSE floor by current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
    • Kalanick watched the bell-ringing with his father from a side balcony before heading a block away to celebrate with early Uber colleagues at The Bailey Restaurant NYC.
  • Uber and Lyft recently ramped up their rider discount offers, prompting overheard talk in the NYSE hallways about artificially-inflated numbers. The discounts could obviously continue, but that wouldn't help ride-hail get closer to profitability. Speaking of which...
  • Uber loses more money than any other company to ever go public. It's the sort of thing that everyone ignores until they don't.
    • Uber has argued that it's the next Amazon, which also spent years in the red without an apparent path to profitability.
    • Investors either didn't agree, or figured they could wait for the numbers to improve. Or perhaps until Uber finds its own Amazon Web Services (flying taxis?).

But, but, but: IPOs are just a moment in time, and Uber has still managed become a $76 billion company in less than a decade. Facebook gained just 23 cents on its IPO day before spending 15 months below its IPO price; now it's the world's fourth most valuable company.

Uber's IPO ran into the perfect storm. Other money-losing unicorns and minotaurs will now watch closely to see if it can navigate into calmer waters, or if they need to begin scrambling for life vests.

Go deeper

Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

Go deeperArrow13 mins ago - Health

Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 649,904 — Total deaths: 30,249 — Total recoveries: 137,319.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 116,505 — Total deaths: 1,891 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.