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Grading the final tech IPOs of 2019

Grading the final tech IPOs of 2019
 

As the holiday slowdown looms, the final U.S.-listed technology IPOs have come in and begun to trade.

Three tech, tech-ish or venture-backed companies went public this week: Bill.com, Sprout Social and EHang. Let’s quickly review how each has performed thus far. These are, bear in mind, the last IPOs of the year that we care about, pending something incredible happening. 2020 will bring all sorts of fun, but, for this time ’round the sun, we’re done.

Pricing

Our three companies managed to each price differently. So, we have some variety to discuss. Here’s how each managed during their IPO run:

  • EHang priced at the bottom of its range, selling shares for $12.50 apiece
  • Sprout Social priced mid-range at $17 per share after targeting a $16 to $18 per-share price interval
  • Bill.com priced above its raised range, selling shares at $22 apiece after raising its interval from $16 to $18 to $19 to $21

How do those results stack up against their final private valuations? Doing the best we can, here’s how they compare:

  • EHang was worth around $680 million at its IPO price. The company’s final private valuation (likely set during its $42 million Series B) is unknown. However, we’d guess that the IPO was at a higher price, given the time between the private round and the IPO.
  • Sprout Social managed to slightly raise its valuation in its IPO. Worth around $814 million in the liquidity event, Sprout had been worth just over $800 million when private.
  • Bill.com was valued at around $1.6 billion in its IPO, comfortably above its final private valuation of $1.0 billion.

So EHang priced low and its IPO is hard to vet, as we’re guessing at its final private worth. We’ll give it a passing grade. Sprout Social priced mid-range, and managed a slight valuation bump. We can give that a B, or B+. Bill.com managed to price above its raised range, boosting its valuation sharply in the process. That’s worth an A.

Performance

Trading just wrapped, so how have our companies performed thus far in their nascent lives as public companies? Here’s the scorecard:

  • EHang’s Friday closing price: $12.90 (+3.2%)
  • Sprout Social’s Friday closing price: $16.60 (-2.35%)
  • Bill.com’s Friday closing price: $38.83 (+76.5%)

You can gist out the grades somewhat easily here, with one caveat. The Bill.com IPO’s massive early success has caused the usual complaints that the firm was underpriced by its bankers, and was thus robbed to some degree. This argument makes the assumption that the public market’s initial pricing of the company once it began trading is reasonable (maybe!) and that the company in question could have captured most or all of that value (maybe!).

Bill.com’s CEO’s reaction to the matter puts a new spin on it, but you should at least know that the week’s most successful IPO has attracted criticism for being too successful. So forget any chance of an A+.

Image via Getty Images / Somyot Techapuwapat / EyeEm

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