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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

49 mins ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

2 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.