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Uber to WeWork – the IPO flops that preceded Deliveroo

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August Graham, PA City Reporter
·4-min read
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The failure of Deliveroo to convince investors that it is worth what its own bosses believe puts it in the company of several other major firms who have faced similar flops – but their stories might show a route out for the delivery giant.

As it started trading on Wednesday, Deliveroo dropped by as much as 30% as investors were unconvinced by the £7.6 billion valuation the company had given itself.

Bosses had already tempered their expectations from original hopes that the business might be worth up to £8.8 billion.

But flawed valuations have been commonplace among fast-growing technology companies in recent years, leading to problems for, among others, Uber – which runs a similar gig-economy model to Deliveroo.

Uber UK drivers
Uber was one of the most hotly-anticipated IPOs of 2019 (Laura Dale/PA)

Uber

Before Uber started trading, bosses hoped they might be able to sell shares for between 44 and 50 US dollars (£32-£36) each. But, like Deliveroo, on the morning trading was due to begin the company set a target price at the lower end of that range: 45 dollars (£33).

Traders proved even less receptive to the company’s hopes, and by the end of that first day, in May 2019, Uber’s share price was down by 7.6%.

Despite some swings upwards, the downward trend in the US taxi giant’s share price continued until March last year, around the time Covid-19 started hitting Europe and the US.

Since then, from a share price in the low teens, Uber has regained ground, hitting above 60 dollars (£43) per share for the first time last month.

It offers a glimmer of hope for those who have invested in Deliveroo’s shares, as does Uber’s US rival Lyft.

Lyft

Lyft beat Uber to listing on a public market in the US, but like its rival it also faced early pressure on its share price.

Although the listing seemed like a success on opening day – shares rose 8.7% above the 72 dollar (£52) target price – the hype proved short-lived. On day two, shares fell again to 69 dollars (£50), and within a month shares were fetching 56 dollars (£41).

But Lyft also recovered during the pandemic. Its shares have soared from around 21 dollars (£15) in October to about 63 dollars (£46) today.

WeWork financials
WeWork abandoned a planned float after facing tough questions from potential investors (Jonathan Brady/PA)

WeWork

While Uber, Lyft and Deliveroo all faced a tough reception from investors in the first weeks of trading, WeWork – an office rental company – never even got to that stage.

After publishing documents ahead of its planned listing in 2019, analysts and investors started asking tough questions of the company.

They were in part worried about the outsized role, and behaviour, of WeWork’s chief executive and founder Adam Neumann. There were also questions about the company’s ability to make a profit.

In the space of a month, the firm ended up slashing its valuation to 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion), from 47 billion (£34.1 billion) earlier, and put off its public float.

Aston Martin South Wales factory
Aston Martin is trading well below its 2018 float price (Aston Martin/PA)

Aston Martin

London is shorter on technology IPOs than its counterparts in the US, but carmaker Aston Martin offers a home-grown warning to companies looking to float in the UK.

Within a day of listing in 2018, Aston’s valuation had dropped from a hoped-for £5 billion to just £4 billion.

The downwards trend has largely continued, and today the business had a valuation of around £2.3 billion.

Others

Exercise bike maker Peloton tumbled 11% below its 29 dollar (£21) per share target price in its first day of trading in September 2019. It has since rebounded to around 107 dollars (£78), mostly after Covid-19 hit.

Funding Circle listed in London in 2018, hoping its shares would fetch 440p each. But on their debut, shares dropped as low as 334.5p. They never recovered, and today trade for around 155p.

Slack did not struggle on its first day of trading in June 2019, instead rising strongly from its 26 dollar (£19) target to more than 38 dollars (£28). But Slack lost ground after that, falling below 20 dollars (£14.50) in March last year, before recovering again to trade at above 40 dollars (£29) today.