Shares in online grocery delivery business Instacart jumped 43% in its Nasdaq trading debut on Tuesday.
While shares dropped back in later trading, ending the day up just over 12%, the price pop was the second successful initial public offering (IPO) in a week following the sale of British microchip designer Arm.
Instacart’s shares started trading at $30 and closed at $34.23, valuing the company at about $11bn. That’s about half the valuation it received from investors last March.
Instacart’s core business is to send couriers to grocery stores to pick out orders and deliver them to homes, but in recent years it has expanded into advertising and technology services, including artificial intelligence operations.
Instacart executives pitched the offering as an opportunity to get in on a revolution in the grocery business that, they said, had notably lagged in developing technologies to meet shifting consumer habits.
US consumers are ordering more groceries online than they did before the pandemic, when demand for home delivery soared, but they are doing so less often. Instacart has only recently started making profits after years of losses and faces strong competition from Uber and DoorDash.
Instacart’s share offering was backed by big investors, including PepsiCo, Norway’s Norges Bank and Sequoia Capital.
Among the winners from the IPO is Apoorva Mehta, 37, who co-founded the company in 2012 and stepped down as CEO in 2021. Mehta’s 10% stake in the firm is now valued at $1.3bn.
Instacart currently has more than 3,000 employees and about 600,000 “shoppers” – independent contractors who pick up orders. The company has said it will pay bonuses to shoppers who have delivered at least 5,000 orders and a $20,000 bonus to those who have delivered at least 15,000 orders.