Robinhood priced at $38 per share this week, opened flat and closed its first day’s trading yesterday worth $34.82 per share, or a bit more than 8% underwater. The company posted a mixed picture today, falling early before recovering to breakeven in late-morning trading.
It wasn’t the debut that some expected Robinhood to have.
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To close out the week, we’re not going to noodle on banned Chinese IPOs or do a full-week mega-round discussion. Instead, let’s parse some notes from a chat The Exchange had with Robinhood’s CFO about his company’s IPO and go over a few reasonable guesses as to why we’re not wondering how much money Robinhood left on the table by pricing its public offering lower than it closed on its first day.
Let’s not be dicks about it. The time for Twitter jokes was yesterday. We’ll put our thinking caps on this morning.
Why Robinhood went public when it did
Chatting with Robinhood CFO Jason Warnick earlier this week, we wanted to know why this was the right time for Robinhood to go public.
Now, no public company CEO or CFO will come out and directly say that they are going public because they think that they can defend — or extend — their most recent private valuation thanks to current market conditions.
Instead, execs on IPO day tend to deflect the question, pivoting to a well-oiled bon mot about how their public offering is a mere milestone on their company’s long-term trajectory. For some reason in our capitalist society, during an arch-capitalist event, by a for-profit company, leaders find it critical to downplay their IPO’s importance.1
With that in mind, Warnick did not say Robinhood went public because the IPO market has recently rewarded big-brand consumer tech companies like Airbnb and DoorDash with strong debuts. And he didn’t say that with tech shares near all-time highs and a taste for high-growth concerns, the company was likely set to enter a market that would be willing to price it at a valuation that it found attractive.
,Robinhood says it went public because it was ready. And our read of the markets is that it’s an appealing time for high-growth tech companies with a history of losses to do so. Yet it’s underwater.